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Volunteer highlights community effort during COVID-19

A volunteer helping vulnerable residents has paid tribute to the ‘power of community in supporting people through the pandemic. 

Cornwall Council change manager Gill Scott Anderson is one of a group of 15 volunteers who in their spare time have been helping vulnerable residents. 

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The St Ives-based group collectively look after shielded families and residents in sheltered accommodation and individuals who are self-isolating in remote locations. 

The group has also set up a community pantry in the town for anyone who needs help with getting food.  

Ahead of Volunteers' Week starting on June 1, community groups, charities and volunteers across Cornwall are being praised for helping people in need during the pandemic with support from Cornwall Council, NHS Kernow and Volunteer Cornwall. 

Volunteers can get information and resources on supporting residents in their communities from the Council’s COVID-19 Community Toolkit which includes topics such as food shopping, prescription collections and befriending. 

Gill and the other volunteers in her group are coordinated by Volunteer Cornwall who pass through details of people on the shielding program or people identified by the local surgery as needing support. 

Her group has been keeping in regular contact with people needing help over the phone, understanding what they need, doing their shopping and collecting medication, all while observing social distancing. 

Gill said: “We have learnt that many people are anxious and fearful at this time and need someone who will take time to listen, talk to them and to help them with shopping and prescriptions. 

For example, I am looking after an elderly lady who lives in a remote location and has an underlying health condition.  

We started talking a few weeks ago and she was reticent to accept any help or support and said a weekly check in was all that she wanted. We are in contact frequently and I am shopping and collecting medication for her. 

Gill says the volunteer group have a virtual check-in with each other weekly to share stories and suggestions and use a WhatsApp group to allocate work and record contacts. 

She paid tribute to the community effort of volunteers across Cornwall in helping people get through the lockdown.  

Gill said: “The key learning is everyone is an individual and their needs are different and the way they want to be treated is different. 

The sense of community is strong here in St Ives and whilst these are difficult times, we hope that the community spirit will burn bright after we come through this.” 

Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall’s portfolio holder for climate change and neighbourhoods, said: “The community action that Gill, her fellow volunteers and volunteers across Cornwall are taking to help our most vulnerable residents through this crisis is so important for helping our communities stay resilient. 

“I want to thank the incredible effort and work of all our volunteers during this pandemic. Together with NHS Kernow and Volunteer Cornwall we are supporting compassionate communities across Cornwall in helping the people who need assistance the most. 

Ian Jones, Chief Executive of Volunteer Cornwall, said: “Cornwall’s volunteers have been outstanding. We have received requests for help from concerned relatives from all around the world; in fact, our 3,000th request we received was for a gentleman whose daughter called us from the USA.   

“Many requests were for food and medicines and other calls have included moving furniture to facilitate someone being discharged from hospital, caring for a horse whilst the owner recovered from COVID-19 Virus, finding foster homes for pets during a period of their owner’s illness and even fixing a washing line. 

June 1-7 is Volunteers' Week so let’s give thanks to all of our tremendous volunteers.” 

If you have been identified as having to shield through a letter from the Government or through the NHS or your GP, make sure you register your status and any need for support at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable or call 0800 0288327.  

The Government can send you weekly food parcels if you are shielded. Together, the Council, NHS and Volunteer Cornwall can also help with queries about the food parcels, special dietary requirements, prescriptions and social support if you email covid19@cornwall.gov.ukor ring us on 0300 1234 334. 

If you are vulnerable but not in the shielded category, help is still available if you contact Volunteer Cornwall on 01872 266988 or email requestforhelp@volunteercornwall.org.uk. 

See Cornwall Council’s Community Toolkit for ideas on volunteering during the pandemic. 

 

Story posted on May 28, 2020