Worcester volunteers are coronavirus heroes

Age-UK-Worcester-volunteer-Esther-Humphries Age UK volunteer Esther Humphries

The efforts of hundreds of Worcester people who selflessly give up their time to help others are being celebrated this week (National Volunteers' Week:1 – 7 June 2020).

Hundreds of residents have volunteered their services since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic – and community support groups have sprung up across the city.

"This pandemic hasn't broken community spirit here in Worcester – it has strengthened it," says Cllr Jo Hodges, the city's new Mayor.

"Some people have volunteered with well established organisations, but many others have spontaneously helped neighbours, friends and complete strangers throughout this crisis.We will never be able to quantify all the efforts selflessly made by so many people.

"So I would simply like to say thank you to every single person who's gone out of their way to help someone else.You represent the very best of Worcester; this city simply couldn't function without people like you."

The Mayor praised the work of volunteers at the Worcester Community Trust (www.worcestercommunitytrust.org.uk) – one of her designated mayoral charities – who have been sourcing and delivering food parcels to residents facing financial hardship during the pandemic.

Elsewhere, the St Peters Coronavirus Support Group has responded to over 200 calls since late March from local residents who are shielding or having to self-isolate.

"Our team of volunteers has been helping with shopping for food and other essentials, collecting prescriptions and even, on one occasion, a trip to the vets!" says St Peters Parish Councillor and local volunteer John Renshaw.

"The Coronavirus outbreak will be with us for some time to come, and the St. Peter's support group remains on hand to help."

Age UK in Worcester has relied extensively on volunteers to cope with the increased demand for support over the last couple of months.

"With all that has been happening, we have seen a huge increase in the number of older people who are feeling lonely at home, in need of some form of companionship and general support throughout this time. It's critical that we've had such fantastic support from local volunteers to help keep our essential services running" said Clare Thomas, CEO of Age UK Worcester.

"We have an army of Worcester volunteers who've been telephoning and checking in with some of our most vulnerable clients."

Whilst the lockdown is tough for everyone, it's been even more so for people with no home. Retired languages teacher Gerry Lowman has offered literacy and numeracy support to homeless people in Worcester for the last 14 years. She now voluntarily runs photography, film and poetry writing sessions, with the aim of promoting well being, through a new support group she's set up called Creating Links .

"It can sometimes be daunting to move into your own accommodation after living in a community providing support," she explains.

"Local people who have previously attended my groups have been using their creative skills to make films and take photos which reflect life in lockdown – I'm looking forward to bringing all the materials together to create a collage recording their experiences in the future." 

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