As part of Volunteers’ Week, Essex County Council along with residents have expressed their gratitude to the many people who signed up to help others during lockdown.
The coronavirus pandemic may have shut shops, kept families apart and stopped events but, like communities across the country, and across the globe, Essex has gone the extra mile to look out for one another in all parts of the county.
During Volunteers’ Week, which runs from from June 1st to June 7th , Essex County Council and residents have been expressing gratitude to those who signed up in lockdown to help others in their time of need.
Essex residents responded quickly when The Essex Welfare Service, commissioned by Essex County Council and delivered by local community interest company Provide, called for willing volunteers.
The welfare service’s website enables members of the public to sign up as a volunteer and for those without the support of family, friends or neighbours to request support.
One resident who was helped by the service was particularly thankful for the help and support provided when they were “distressed”.
They said: “When I first called the Essex Welfare Service, I was really distressed, but the call taker was so patient and reassuring. They arranged for two food boxes to be delivered by volunteers and I’m now registered for priority delivery slots on supermarket websites. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Support for those feeling isolated or lonely has also been provided through United in Kind, a social movement bringing together hundreds of community, charity, and voluntary groups from around Essex.
United in Kind has provided help across the county of Essex in communities such as Braintree and Chelmsford.
In one instance, in Chelmsford, United in Kind sprang into action when they were contacted by an Outreach Officer at Deafblind, UK who told them about a 90-year-old deaf and blind man who was running short of food. Fearing that he would be a burden to others he started rationing his food and at one point did not eat for two days.
The volunteers who signed up, reached out through Facebook so that the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) team were quickly able to find someone who could help, and the elderly man is now receiving regular food supplies from the local community.
One volunteer, Lisa, from Maldon, was inspired by the work United in Kind was doing and sprang into action when Plume Academy, an Essex secondary school, appealed for support to help them deliver protective face visors they had made, to Braintree Community Hospital.
After a successful delivery, the academy has continued to connect with United in Kind volunteers to help them deliver gloves, goggles, and face masks to care homes and other health facilities across Essex.
A coach from United in Kind, Stella Scrivener, said: “It is heartening to see the whole community pull together to support [people] who really need it. Thank you to our volunteers! To those who need help, never be afraid to ask. The world is filled with helping-hands ready to help”.
Other lovely deeds have included Danbury community helping an 87-year-old who found it difficult to use a telephone and in association with Castle Hedingham Parish Council and local villagers, Braintree community coordinated volunteers to do essential shopping and prescription pickups for others.
A core team of 15 volunteers also helped a Braintree shop, making sure it was well stocked and dressed up its window with special displays to bring some cheer.
Councillor Susan Barker, Cabinet Member for Communities, Essex County Council, said: “Whilst the country, and indeed most of the world, have been in lockdown, we have seen a great outpouring of kindness by people in Essex. Volunteers for the Essex Welfare Service, in addition to the many hundreds of people who give their time to charity and community groups across the county, have ensured that our most vulnerable have received essential support.
“I’d like to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of Essex County Council to all of the county’s volunteers, although ‘thank you’ just doesn’t seem to do it justice.”
Braintree District Council have also offered their thanks to volunteers by lighting up Braintree Hall in blue, every night this week.
As lockdown has started to ease, Essex County Council has asked those feeling isolated or in need of some extra help to come forward, so they can be helped by one of the Essex Welfare Service’s army of willing volunteers.
The service assists people of all ages, whatever their need – from a telephone chat to keeping someone company or arranging delivery of food or medicines, to more individual help for people with disabilities, dementia, sensory loss or health conditions.
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