Grateful thanks are being given to the city’s much-valued, highly impactful and selfless volunteers for all they achieved and the difference they made in the past year.
Following an exceptional response to the council’s call for volunteers, thousands of residents came forward to offer their services. Survey feedback suggests that 71% of York residents now give unpaid help to a group, club or organisation, representing a 4% increase in volunteering across the city since 2019. This includes the tireless and generous support from regular volunteers including the city’s snow wardens, school governors, community health champions, mentors and ‘Friends of’ groups.
Council-registered covid volunteers were asked how they could help the city through the pandemic and completed some early training, to be ready to respond to requests for help. From April to December 2020, 1,066 socially distanced roles were allocated to the city’s volunteers including:
- Supporting community hubs – 494
- Food distribution – 30
- IT support – 24
- Drivers – 121
- Doorstep natters – 42
- Wellbeing telephone calls – 136
- Specialist volunteering – 16
- Gardening - 3
- Stewarding or marshalling - 126
Exceptional challenges included supporting important and fast-moving new health initiatives to help protect the city. The volunteers were asked to be stewards to support flu vaccinations before Christmas. Thanks to an overwhelming response from the volunteers, they covered every shift needing support within a few hours of being asked to do so. A list of reserve stewards was also provided. Volunteers were also approached at short notice last week to support the city’s quick response to provide symptom-free rapid testing. Again, the volunteers made themselves available and were deployed as and when needed.
Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities at City of York Council, said:
“Our grateful thanks go out to every resident who volunteered their time for this fantastic response.
" For the last nine months they have put themselves forward to support the city including some of our residents most in need of support.
“They have offered their time and skills consistently, sometimes at short notice and even during the busy lead-up to Christmas. Their impact on the city has been immense and we are so thankful for their generosity.”
Feedback from the some of the organisations which the council’s volunteers have supported includes:
Bev Ward from Age UK York said:
“City of York’s volunteers have enabled us to support the discharged patients who use our Home from Hospital service.
" They’ve helped us transport home extra patients during the coronavirus crisis and have made sure they’re safe and well in their homes. We welcomed 24 volunteers in April and 13 more in November who made a huge difference, and now they have adapted to support patients get to their Covid vaccines too. We continue to appreciate everything they do.”
Carl Alsop, Operations Manager, The York Bid, said:
“Sincere thanks to all of you who, in one way or another, have supported the City Host programme and made it happen!
"We have had a really good amount of positive feedback about the programme from businesses, residents and the public. It has been a pleasure working with you all and you have made the whole process very easy. Even the little things you have done for us have been hugely appreciated. Thanks again for making this a huge success!”
Drew Richardson, Volunteer Centre Coordinator at York CVS, said:
"Volunteers continue to play such a vital role in supporting the city's charitable organisations during the pandemic; directly and indirectly helping so many people in need across the city.
“York Volunteers, York's new Volunteer Centre run by York CVS, supports individuals to find volunteering roles to suit their time, interests and skills. We have a range of roles where you can help regularly, or you can support an organisation with one-off tasks. However you choose to volunteer your time, you will be making a huge difference to these charitable organisations and the people they support."
Anyone interested in volunteering opportunities in York’s voluntary and community sectors can do so with York CVS’s new volunteer centre at www.yorkcvs.org.uk/volunteers.