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Volunteers and hubs respond to residents’ Coronavirus needs

Across York, the last few weeks have seen more volunteers signed up to help the most vulnerable, more residents without support networks are being helped and more voluntary groups are being given extra resources to continue their work.
Almost 3,300 volunteers are signed up to the Council’s scheme help the most vulnerable, and all have been offered safeguarding training and information governance training to protect the personal information of residents in need. Among the hundreds of volunteers deployed, 50 are working alongside the city’s Local Area Co-ordinators and nearly 140 are working out of the community hubs.

Thousands of welfare calls have been made to vulnerable or medically shielded residents by the council’s volunteering network, in addition to the contacts being made by York CVS, Age UK, the Council and other partners.

Residents who don’t already receive help from council services, the NHS or charities are being assigned volunteers to help them. Some volunteers are registered with or assigned to work with partners like Move the Masses, GoodGym or York Neighbours. The volunteers are asked to carry out a wide range of tasks, the majority are for shopping or collecting prescriptions.

The help being given:

In the community, volunteers with specialist skills are matched with residents who need support and community hubs have been linked with nearby residents in aiding food delivery, especially for residents who need special foods which meets their specific dietary requirements.

Other volunteers are giving a wide variety of support, from helping residents with their pets to organising repairs to essential household items. As the service develops, volunteers may help set up IT to get people online, or help people get out into their gardens.

Community pharmacies experiencing increased demand on their dispensary services are being allocated volunteer drivers to collect and deliver prescriptions, which also helps to shield staff and customers.

The Council has been working from the outset with Move the Masses to support six community pharmacies with deliveries, and has recently put in place other volunteer arrangements to support three others. We are sending volunteers from hubs to collect individual prescriptions where appropriate and are in regular touch with Community Pharmacy North Yorkshire to monitor the situation. The Council is also supporting the NHS responder system as it is set up, which will also help pharmacies.

Working with partners:

 Key voluntary sector partners working with the council’s volunteers include Move the Masses, GoodGym, York Neighbours and Age UK.

Among the work, the Council asking Move the Masses volunteers to make welfare calls to over 100 vulnerable people. Along with the comfort and connection of friendly phone call, the volunteers ask about the additional support that each person requires. After logging each call and a further check, the call for help is passed on to one of several partnering organisations to deliver.

One GoodGym volunteer deployed by Move the Masses, helped a blind resident buy flowers – she thoughtfully chose scented blooms – as part of a grocery shop. Another volunteer then laid the bouquet on the grave of the resident’s late husband.

GoodGym volunteer Katie, said: “I was really pleased to get such an unusual and meaningful task. We have done lots of shopping; this was a little different. The resident was really grateful. It felt like I was doing double the good; it was lovely to ease her anxiety and recognise her joy.

“I didn’t realise that the task had initially come from a welfare call a friend of mine took via Move the Masses. I loved the fact that two of my fellow GoodGym-ers had established and passed on the task. It felt like a perfect chain of events.”

How to request volunteers to help your organisation:

The volunteering system is developing and finding new ways to support vulnerable residents.

Organisations – voluntary or commercial – who are trying to help residents through the emergency, can ask for help to deliver services for which they don’t charge. Please email and each request will be considered.

Businesses’ volunteering

Businesses are volunteering their unused and spare personal protective equipment (PPE) to help protect residents and our care workers.

Just hours after issuing the council’s call for their help, businesses ranging from garages to hairdressers to a sports club offered to donate items urgently required.

Our care workers need disposable plastic aprons, gloves, black bags, masks, eye protection goggles, alcohol based hand sanitiser and hard surface wipes. Any organisations or businesses with these items unused and spare are asked to offer it by emailing

Cllr Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities at City of York Council said:

“A huge and heartfelt thank you to all parts of the city who are united in helping the most vulnerable and the city’s key workers through this emergency.

“Katie from GoodGyms’ example of how she helped a resident in need is inspiring, I’m pleased the systems and networks in place across York are working well to support residents.

“If you want to do your bit, please do so! Being neighbourly is a great start. It might simply mean being considerate and quiet to those living around you or it could mean picking up some extra shopping for someone on your street. Why not link up with your local Covid-19 Mutual Aid volunteer groups if you’re on Facebook.

“We’re all in this together for the next few months. We are in regular contact with volunteers awaiting tasks, and we will continue to value their support over the coming months.”

Vulnerable people needing help because they are directly affected by coronavirus and have no other source of help should email or call 01904 551550.

Businesses with these unused and spare disposable plastic aprons, gloves, black bags, masks, eye protection goggles, alcohol based hand sanitiser and hard surface wipes, please email

Organisations – voluntary or commercial – who need volunteers to help residents with free services please email

People who can help and volunteer are being asked to sign up to or call 01904 551550, or go to .

Contact Information

Megan Rule
Senior Communications Manager
City of York Council
01904 555515