Hundreds being helped by Chelmsford volunteers

April 22, 2020 10:00 PM

Emergency food parcelsMore than two hundred local people have volunteered alongside Chelmsford City Council staff to help bring food, medicine and phone conversation to vulnerable residents across Chelmsford - and they're already making a big difference.

Chelmsford City Council and Chelmsford Voluntary Service (CVS) are part of a countywide operation to bring assistance to vulnerable people who are self-isolating. Those who are staying at home and who are in need can call the Essex Welfare Service on 0300 303 9988 to request anything from advice and a chat with someone over the phone to essential supplies or help with looking after their pets. Requests are then fielded to local volunteers, and a new Chelmsford Community Response Hub, to carry out practical tasks such as collecting grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions.

Help from volunteers is an essential lifeline for some during the pandemic, especially those who already have a small support network and have now been advised to stay at home because they are in an 'at risk' group.

Hundreds of people have come forward to offer their time and since 29 March, over 200 local volunteers have been recruited and received 759 requests for help. In the last three weeks over 260 calls have been made to vulnerable people known to the CVS to check on their welfare and offer further help.

Council leaders are overwhelmed by the compassion that local people have shown for their neighbours. Councillor Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council, has written an open letter to thank volunteers across the area. He said, "I have always thought that Chelmsford is a place where people care about each other, and the resilience that our area has shown during this pandemic has proved it. There are people in our community who are feeling isolated, alone and in need, for whom this crisis may seem even worse than it does to the rest of us. If that's you right now, I would like to let you know that Chelmsford is here to help you and you can always call the Welfare Service on 0300 303 9988 if you're worried about anything - never be afraid to ask."

Lorraine Jarvis, Chelmsford Voluntary Service, said, "We have been humbled by the sheer numbers of people that have come forward to offer help, whether that's to sign up as a formal volunteer with the Hub or to just ask how they can safely offer support in their local community. When the pandemic began, people in Chelmsford very quickly mobilised themselves into neighbourhood volunteer groups and we have connected with 34 new volunteer-led community groups this month. Together with our own volunteers, all are offering vital support in these times to people in Chelmsford, its villages and South Woodham Ferrers."

Along with the Council, the Service is calling for more local groups who would like to get involved to become part of the 'Essex Community Shield' network, so even more help can be given to those in need. If you run a community group in the Chelmsford area, please contact the Chelmsford Community Response Hub on 01245 280731.