If the Stokesley and District Community Care Association appears to be a precise fit for the town’s needs, there is a reason for that.
Today’s association provides a wide range of services, including community transport, a day centre and visiting and befriending services.
They have all evolved in answer to residents’ needs from what began as a luncheon club for older people, which started serving meals at the town hall during the late 1980s.
As time passed, services were extended and by 2018, what had been a charity became a community interest company, with a range of services that are often used in conjunction with each other, such as community transport taking people to and from the luncheon club, which they may struggle to attend without that help.
Although the association is funded from various sources, including ourselves, it would be impossible for it to function without the volunteers who give up their time for the benefit of others.
It was part of the network of community support organisations set up to support isolated people during the Covid-19 pandemic and many people furloughed from their regular work stepped up to help in that period.
However, many have returned to work since and numbers have settled back to a more normal level of between 170 and 180 people, often retired and wanting to give something back to society.
One of the vital roles they fulfil is operating a car scheme, providing transport to hospital appointments and similar trips where public transport would be difficult and taxis an expensive option.
Costs for a trip to hospital, regardless of distance, are capped at £20 through an arrangement with the county council, which helps to fund the scheme.
The car service works alongside the association’s two minibuses, which provide services for those in remote communities who would otherwise struggle to get out.
Other volunteers work across a range of services, including a community visiting service, to give respite to carers, and a befriending service to offer friendship and support to those facing social isolation, with volunteers making regular visits or telephoning to offer companionship.
That service has resulted in long-term friendships being forged, which have even continued when a resident has left their own home to move into a care environment.
The association’s manager, Andrea Fox, said: “Our volunteers do amazing work and put a lot of hours in.
“They really do go for it and help people. They are so committed, it is a lovely thing. We could not do it without our volunteers.”
Not all of those in the pool of volunteers were available all the time, she said, and the association is constantly looking for new people to step forward to offer their time.