'Lifeline' Wakefield community groups in desperate need of volunteers during coronavirus crisis
Community groups are a ‘lifeline’ service to those in need during the coronavirus crisis, a councillor has said.
Hundreds of people across the Wakefield district have already volunteered their time to help out during the coronavirus, with businesses offering free deliveries and more to those in need.
But more volunteers are desperately needed to help with distributing goods to vulnerable people and families.
Nic Stansby, councillor for Wrenthorpe and Outwood West, has been involved in organising the response in the north west of the city, where a team of 40 volunteers are working around the clock to help those in need.
Almost 300 people have joined the Wrenthorpe and Kirkhamgate group, where they coordinate donations, deliveries and pick up prescriptions for those who cannot leave their homes.
Coun Stansby said: “We’ve leafleted the whole of Wrenthorpe, Kirkhamgate and Carr Gate, so everybody knows that there’s somebody here for them, nobody’s on their own.
“We’ve got people doing pharmacy collections, we’ve got people doing shopping. We’ve got a foodbank set up for people who can’t pay and stuff like that.
“We’ve got people ringing up just to have a chat, some people just want to talk and know that somebody’s there.”
The team are now receiving dozens of calls a day, from elderly people, isolated families and people concerned about relatives in the area.
They are doing what they can to minimise risks, including issuing ID cards, asking all volunteers to register with the NHS volunteer register and keeping donated goods in isolation for at least 24 hours before they are used.”
Coun Stansby said the overwhelming community response was a pleasant change after months of tension over Brexit.
“It’s almost like a reset button,” she said. “People are being so generous with their time, with their skills, with their food. Every time we do a call for donations we get the food and everything we need.
“People really are pulling together.”
Iain Woodrow works at Barnsley Hospital, but has been in self-isolation for more than a week after a family member presented with a cough.
He has used this time to help out with Covid-19 Mutual Aid - Wakefield Working Together, a Facebook group which he runs with two others.
He said: “I started a group in Horbury and then got involved in Wakefield. We’re basically trying to collect local similar groups and the others created around the area.
“We’re sharing common information involving safeguarding issues and GDPR and that sort of thing, trying to ensure that the information is correct and keep everything friendly and helpful.
“It’s really doing well. We’re trying to connect people who are isolated with the services. Trying to get shopping to them or even just a phone call.”
More than 1,200 people have now joined the group, which signposts those in need to the local services that can help them out.
Praising the community response, Iain agreed that the crisis has helped to heal some of the divides created by Brexit.
He said: “After the ire that went around with the whole Brexit thing it’s nice I think this is kind of pulling people together.
“Unfortunate circumstances but maybe some good will come out of it.”
For help and assistance in Wakefield, or to get involved with volunteering, contact the groups via the links above, or call Nic Stansby on 07471 141672.