This is how you can say thank you and nominate Leeds' unsung winter heroes

It could be someone who tirelessly shovels snow off the road without a second thought, or offers a cup of tea to an elderly neighbour living alone.

Coun Rebecca Charlwood is backing the Big Thank You campaign.
Coun Rebecca Charlwood is backing the Big Thank You campaign.

The search today begins for Leeds’ unsung heroes who go the extra mile to help others during winter.

Winter health series day one: Leeds A&E under pressure as doctors deal with thousands of extra patientsOn the fifth day of the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Winter Health series of special reports, we are introducing a new campaign that aims to give a proper pat on the back to deserving residents across the city.

At a time when health services face rising pressure, the YEP-backed Big Thank You campaign, run by the NHS in partnership with Leeds City Council, is giving people a chance to recognise the ‘Winter Heroes’ in their community.

Coun Rebecca Charlwood is backing the Big Thank You campaign.

Winter health series day two: This pilot scheme could see a paramedic called out instead of a GP to your home in Leeds“There are so many people in our communities that we all know who just go the extra mile for others and try to make sure they are OK,” said Coun Rebecca Charlwood, the council’s executive member for health, wellbeing and adults, who welcomes the campaign’s introduction.

“Those people don’t do it for thanks but if we didn’t have them, we would really struggle.

“[They] just do it out of the love of their own hearts.”

Winter health series day three: This cafe is helping socially-isolated older people in Leeds as figures say 37,000 are 'lonely' in cityThe YEP has teamed up with the Big Thank You campaign to help tell the stories of those who are nominated.

They could be a carer, neighbour, doctor, nurse, colleague, or simply a friend, who helps to keep the city going during winter.

“In winter, if you are frail or old, people get ill and suffer from cold a lot more,” Coun Charlwood said. “More people get more poorly. The same goes for vulnerable children.

“Older people have more use of the NHS in winter and a greater need for support.a

“Because there is a greater demand on services, we all need to step up a gear.

“If we can keep people at home for longer, then that frees up demand so if we can prevent people from falling or becoming unwell, it’s a win-win.”

Winter health series day four: This is why the NHS in Leeds is urging people to go to pharmacies first with minor illnessesAnd while the campaign aims to highlight those who have gone the extra mile, and dish out praise, it is also urging people who give thanks to consider what they could do to help others during winter.

“This is also about getting people who have said thank you to then think about what they could do,” Coun Charlwood said.

“It’s simple things like having a flu jab, checking on a neighbour or just trying to help.”

She also said it was a way to connect with neighbours.

“Popping in to see your neighbour is good for winter but it’s good to get to know your neighbour,” Coun Charlwood added.

“We don’t know them now as much as we used to in years gone by and anything that increases that connection is great.”

As part of the campaign, people can use the hashtags #BigThanksLeeds and #BeAWinterHero on social media to get involved.

People who put someone forward for praise will be asked if they want to then be contacted by the YEP, to share the inspirational story of their chosen winter hero to the whole of Leeds.