As communities across County Durham rally together during these unprecedented times, Durham County Council is offering support and advice to residents.
The council recognises that the Coronavirus outbreak is worrying for many people, particularly anyone over 70, those who have underlying health conditions and those who are vulnerable or self-isolating.
They have therefore lifted time restrictions on bus passes to ensure that anyone who does need to shop for themselves can access the earlier slots being offered by supermarkets.
While volunteer groups are also setting up rapidly to help those in need, they are being urged to do so safely and follow Government advice.
The simple steps recommended include social distancing, regularly washing your hands for a longer period of time, and taking suitable precautions if you need to exchange money for goods.
As well as the fantastic response of many volunteers, all residents are being urged to be good neighbours during these uncertain times and think about who is living next door.
That could be considering whether they might need extra support with their shopping, or keeping in touch through a simple phone call to prevent feelings of isolation.
The council is also anticipating extra pressure on resources during this difficult period and would ask anyone who regularly donates to a charity or food bank to continue to do so.
Gordon Elliott, the council’s head of partnerships and community engagement, said: “If there can be any positives out of an emergency like this, it is the way our community can come together to support each other and show kindness. It’s really no surprise at all that we have seen so many volunteer groups set up so quickly across the county, but it is vital that they keep themselves safe while they help others.
“We also want to reassure those people who might need extra help and support that we will be keeping them up to date with what is open in their community, what services are available and what support there is through local groups in the coming weeks. We are working hard to update our database of established, but also new volunteer and support organisations, which will be an invaluable resource to all our residents.”
We will be supporting key voluntary services through Durham County Council’s 14 Area Action Partnerships (AAPs). Each AAP’s Facebook site will also be used to highlight the support that is available locally. You can find a link to your own AAP at: https://www.durham.gov.uk/AAPs
You can also find out more on our website at: https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/22961/Support-for-our-communities-and-volunteering