Coronavirus group expands community support

Companion garden visits, Walk & Talk sessions, library deliveries and foodbank deliveries and collections are all among the new services that the volunteers are now offering

Darlington Support, the local charity set up to help residents during the Coronavirus pandemic, is providing new forms of support to residents across the town. The group has also been running training and learning opportunities for both its volunteers and team leaders, which include topics such as safeguarding, dementia, effective communication skills and building strong working relationships.

To reduce the feeling of loneliness and social isolation that some people might have as a result of shielding at home, the volunteers have been conducting friendly companion calls with residents for months. However, the relaxation of lockdown rules meant that the charity is now able to offer companion garden visits to residents who would rather speak with others face-to-face in a socially-distanced manner. With the Walk & Talk sessions, a volunteer would meet a resident to chat while walking in their local park or neighbourhood.

Darlington Borough Councillor Steve Harker, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Darlington Support, said: “Darlington is no different to anywhere else in that we are living in extraordinary times. I’ve been truly humbled at the extent to which families and neighbours alike have helped people in need of support. For some, often when living far away from family, they have needed to seek elsewhere – and many have called on Darlington Support. It’s remarkable how many people volunteered with Darlington Support, giving time willingly and freely, and in doing so helping so many people through such difficult circumstances. “.

The group has been collaborating with Darlington Libraries with volunteers delivering books to hundreds of people who are shielding at home.

Library Manager, Suzy Hill, explained: “Our Home Delivery Service has been very popular and many residents have joined the scheme. The service is available to Darlington residents of all ages, who are unable to access their library because of ill-health, disability or frailty, or if they find it difficult to visit the library or carry books. Big BIG thanks to all the volunteers from Darlington Support for their help delivering books to our customers.”

Due to the economic and financial uncertainty facing many families, the volunteers have been supporting foodbanks and charities, such as The Bread and Butter Thing, by delivering food parcels to local residents. Darlington Support has also been helping in picking up the donations made at various supermarkets to transport to King’s Church Foodbank.

King’s Church Foodbank manager, Caroline Todd, commented: “King’s Foodbank have been overwhelmed by the wonderful support from Darlington Support volunteers during the current pandemic. Their army of volunteers have been assisting the Foodbank, making emergency food deliveries at short notice to the vulnerable and picking up bags of donations from the supermarkets for us, especially when we have been unable to meet this need due to current demands upon our services.”

 

This is a picture of the team at King’s Church Foodbank. 

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