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‘Phenomenal’ help from volunteers key to helping vulnerable during coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 11:49 26 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:29 26 March 2020

Trevor Holden. Pic: South Norfolk Council.

Trevor Holden. Pic: South Norfolk Council.

South Norfolk Council

The “phenomenal” willingness of Norfolk communities to help others during the coronavirus pandemic has been hailed - as efforts get under way to make sure thousands of vulnerable people get support from volunteers.

Letters are being sent to every home in Norfolk to get vulnerable people to seek the help they need during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letters urge those people to make themselves known and also ask for volunteers, who can help get food and medicines to vulnerable people, to register.

Trevor Holden, Broadland and South Norfolk Council managing director, is co-ordinating the response for the Norfolk Resilience Forum.

He said: “The level of volunteering in Norfolk is absolutely phenomenal. As a county, it is heartwarming to see.

“We have got lots of volunteers, but we will need to target it to make sure they get to the right people and that’s what our district councils and the local voluntary sector are going to be doing.”

The government is to directly support about 1.4m people identified as vulnerable across the country, but public services in Norfolk are aware the list will not identify everyone in their communities who need support.

And, it could take a number of weeks before the central system is fully up and running, so the volunteers will have a crucial role in getting food to those who need it, whether on that national list or not.

Would-be volunteers will be screened before they are tasked with helping and Mr Holden said they would be permitted to be out and about making deliveries as the prime minister had said those helping the vulnerable were an exception to the isolation orders.

Mr Holden said they would, however, still need to exercise social distancing from the people they visit and follow hygiene advice.

He said, once people started responding to the letters, a picture of how many people will need help will be built up.

He said: “The volunteers will then be going out to deliver food and medicines, but as the situation changes, we will understand more what support will be needed.”

And he added it was important to build up a bank of volunteers - so they would be available for the duration of the measures introduced to deal with the virus.

Those who want to volunteer are asked to go through the Voluntary Norfolk website at www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk

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