Community pulls together to meet Coronavirus challenge

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

The huge logistical challenge of co-ordinating North Yorkshire's community response to help those isolated by the coronavirus pandemic has begun, with Scarborough Borough Council playing a vital role, alongside North Yorkshire County Council, other district councils and 23 community organisations the length and breadth of the county who will work with the voluntary sector in their locality. 

Commenting on the local support arrangements for the Borough of Scarborough, Cllr Liz Colling, our Deputy Leader, said:

"Together with local voluntary partners, we are playing an important role in the county wide coordinated effort to support our borough’s most vulnerable residents during this difficult time. Many local voluntary and community sector organisations are supporting this work, and we have two community support organisations in the borough who are co-ordinating the voluntary and community sector support. This is led by Age UK for the Scarborough and Filey area and CaVCA for Whitby and the northern area. Our Home Improvement Agency is also part of the collective effort, providing practical support for people that are socially isolated and our staff are working closely with the community support organisations.

"Anyone that cannot access support through family, friends, neighbours or established community groups, should call the county council’s customer service number on 01609 780780 for assistance. This will ensure you receive the most accurate and up to date information about who can help you in your area."

Speaking on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council and all seven district councils involved, Cllr Carl Les, North Yorkshire County Council Leader, said:

"We want to make it clear that people first and foremost should turn to family, neighbours and friends for help with things like getting in groceries or collecting medication or in delivering a hot meal.

"If this network is not available to them we would then ask them to make contact with church organisations, clubs, voluntary sector organisations they are supported by or societies they belong to. But North Yorkshire is known for its great spirit of generosity so that for those with no immediate network of support, we are working with district council colleagues and selected community organisations to deliver that support in their local area." 

The role of the community support organisation in each locality is as follows:

  • The single point of contact for those who are alone and isolated by the pandemic
  • Signposting to what local support is available in the community
  • Act as local hub for individuals and groups wishing to volunteer in the community response
  • Provide information on local shopping options and trusted suppliers who are delivering directly to those who are self-isolating

The community support organisation will work with local voluntary sector groups to arrange:

  • Collection and delivery of shopping using local volunteering resources. Shopping will be delivered in line with the safety guidelines and left on the doorstep or in a safe place, in order to avoid close physical contact
  • Collection and delivery of prescriptions using local volunteers. Prescriptions will be collected by a nominated person or organisation with the agreement of the GP or pharmacist
  • Caring for pets, for example walking a dog
  • Regular social contact via telephone, FaceTime, Skype or other methods that avoid physical contact with an individual in self-isolation
  • Delivery of books and magazines or materials to support hobbies, such as wool or knitting or art materials

People in urgent need of help who have no friends, family, church or clubs to turn to, should call 01609 780780.

Cllr Les added:

"We don’t want volunteers travelling long distances to help out. They need to remain within their local area. Nor do we want them to put themselves or others in personal jeopardy. Like all of us, volunteers must follow the Government’s safety guidance on keeping a two metre distance from people and the regular washing of hands.

"If volunteers have specific or specialist skills to offer, again they should be in contact with local groups. They can also contact the county council customer service centre which can direct them to their local community support organisation which can process their offer of help.

"The biggest help is maintaining contact with people who are alone and isolated. We will be looking for volunteers above all who will be able to ring people up and chat with them.

"We want the community response across North Yorkshire to be as coordinated and effective as possible and one which observes the Government’s strict guidance on coronavirus. We have a massive task ahead of us and we do not underestimate the challenges or the complexities of what we face. These are unprecedented times for all of us and so it is critical that we do even more to pull together in the right way to get through this crisis."

Work is taking place with community support organisations to bring in North Yorkshire Volunteer ID cards in line with Government guidance.