More than 1,000 people volunteer in just 10 days to help around Yorkshire town in lockdown

With more than 1,000 volunteers coming forward in just ten days, Rotherham hopes to harness the human kindness that has been shown so that it becomes an integral part of the community once the crisis is over.

Rotherham Council put out its call for volunteers just two days after the lockdown was imposed, and within 10 days had a “phenomenal” 1,000 ‘Rotherham Heroes’ come forward to help support vulnerable people across the borough.

Establishing a Community Hub in such a small space of time was no easy feat, but the authority worked with Voluntary Action Rotherham and the Rotherham Together Partnership to get the programme off the ground, in an attempt to organise those who wanted to offer help in a coordinated and safe way.

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Rotherham Council’s assistant chief executive, Shokat Lal said: “The response has been phenomenal. “Rotherham is a borough that has had to face more than its fair share of challenges but the way people have come together, and the acts of kindness we have seen has been fascinating.

Rotherham is doing its bit during the coronavirus crisis. Wentworth Woodhouse lit up blue for the NHS on Thursday, while more than 1,000 have volunteered to help out in the community.

Join our new coronavirus Facebook group for the latest confirmed news and advice as soon as we get it www.facebook.com/groups/yorkshirecoronavirus“We need to make sure we try and build something from what we have achieved during this crisis, so that these volunteers become an integral part of our communities.”

By working with established third sector organisations, the authority has put in place a vetting procedure for volunteers that has enabled them to run the necessary disclosure and barring checks, in many cases, within 24 hours of a volunteering application being received.

In Rotherham, 5,509 people have been classed as needed to be shielded, and the focus of support is to get essential supplies to them. In the first 10 days, the council had 700 requests for help, which included food parcels, picking up prescriptions, walking dogs and befriending calls.

One of the first volunteers was 20-year-old Sheffield Hallam University student Morgan Powell, who has been packing crisis food parcels that have been given to vulnerable people and those who have lost their income due to the pandemic. On one day during the first week, 100 packages were given to those who needed them most.

She said: “Volunteering was always something I wanted to do, but never had the time. At times like this, helping others is all you can do.”

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