Cornwall’s army of volunteers

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Ali Bowser

An army of volunteers are being brought together to support the vulnerable and elderly in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Volunteer Cornwall, based at Newham & The Port of Truro, has launched its own Response Team to coordinate those in need and those offering to help support them. So far more than 1,500 vulnerable, elderly and self-isolating people across Cornwall have said they need help and more than 3,500 volunteers have stepped forward to offer that support.

Collecting prescriptions or food shopping, walking pets or just being a listening ear on the end of the phone are some of the ways that these volunteers are able to bring comfort and reassurance to those struggling the most during the pandemic.

Ali Bowser, health and wellbeing volunteering coordinator for Volunteer Cornwall, said: “We are so pleased with the response from our growing army of volunteers, it is fantastic to have so many people step forward and offer to help others in our community at such a difficult time.

“Some of the people contacting us by self-referral are very worried and anxious about how they are going to cope so we are putting them in touch with volunteers to help them and try to alleviate some of that worry.

“These volunteers are there to support anyone who is vulnerable, self-isolating or haven’t got anyone to help them.”

She added that the team began to think about how they could assisted the Cornish community as cases of Covid-19 spread, deciding to use their existing Flu Friends framework, set up previously to deliver medicine to vulnerable people who could have been affected by swine flu.

The Volunteer Cornwall Coronavirus Response Team is also already taking referrals and getting people out into the community to stop the vulnerable feeling lonely and isolated.

And Bowser added that the team is hoping the growing number of volunteers will continue to offer vital help in the community once the pandemic has subsided.

“Many of the people who need help now, needed that help before Covid-19,” she said. “Some of them have already slipped through the cracks and they will continue to need our support in the future.”

Volunteer Cornwall is a charity that is dedicated to building social capital and developing the wellbeing of individuals and communities in the county. The team, based at Newham, works in collaboration with a wide range of organisations to promote and support active citizenship and voluntary action covering the emotional, social, environmental and economic needs and opportunities in Cornwall.