VOLUNTEER drivers who help isolated and vulnerable people in some of the most remote parts of Yorkshire have starred in a documentary about the work of the Red Cross.
The Yorkshire Dales and Moors Community Connect initiative launched in May last year to provide emotional and practical support to those who need it most, such as home visits, help with shopping and assistance with paper work.
It is designed to both help with day to day practicalities and help people access existing community services, and was made possible due to funding from a £2m partnership between Land Rover and the Red Cross.
Volunteers Sean Ridley and Nick Stenhouse were shadowed by a film crew as they supported some of the Dales most socially isolated people for a film to promote the partnership.
Over two days, the film crew interviewed staff, volunteers and users of the service, as they followed Mr Ridley and Mr Stenhouse as they drove in and around the Moors, Dales and the Vale of York to reach those most in need of help.
The itinerary included a shopping trip for a house-bound couple living far from a supermarket, a community music event for the elderly in Great Ouseburn and a Red Cross first aid training session for parents of young children in Reeth.
Mr Ridley, who has been volunteering with the Red Cross fire and emergency support service for two years, took annual leave from work in order to take part in the filming.
“Being part of the whole filming process and seeing how it worked was a really exciting experience, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to see it at first hand,” he said.
“Not everyone knows about the work of the Red Cross in rural areas like ours, so it was great to be able to help record the amazing Community Connect service, which is available day in, day out.”
Mr Stenhouse is a volunteer as well as a member of staff, and is responsible for co-ordinating the Red Cross fire and emergency support in West Yorkshire.
He said: “We worked closely with the film crew and photographer, staff, other volunteer and people keen to tell the story of how they have been helped by the Red Cross.
“The film features some of the great people we met, and tells the story of our work with great empathy and sensitivity – as well as capturing the remote and beautiful landscape of this part of Yorkshire.”
The Yorkshire project is one of 11 around the country funded by Land Rover. It is designed to help people to remain independent in their own homes following a crisis in their lives such as ill health or a stay in hospital.
Colette Kemp, the Red Cross service manager for Community Connect, said that by showcasing the work of the Red Cross in the film, she hopes potential new volunteers will come forward.
“We have a wonderful team in the Moors and Dales, but we always need more volunteers – especially across the Moors area - in order to keep this fantastic service running,” she said.
“We’d like to encourage people to get in touch if they would like to find out more.”
If you would like more information about volunteering with the Community Connect service, email Ms Kemp at Ckemp@redcross.org.uk
The Yorkshire Post wants loneliness to be universally recognised as a health priority in our communities.
We launched the Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign in February 2014 after revealing the heartbreaking scale of social isolation in the region. According to research, living with loneliness is as detrimental to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and can contribute to dementia and high blood pressure.
In partnership with the Campaign to End Loneliness, we also want to encourage more people to volunteer for support services, like Community Connect.
More than 90,000 older people in Yorkshire say they are lonely all or most of the time - something we want to change.
For full details, visit yorkshirepost.co.uk/loneliness