Community volunteers are the 'lifeblood of our nation', says council director

Community volunteers are the "lifeblood" of the nation, the man at the helm of England's largest county response has said as he oversees support for many thousands of people.

Gary Fielding, director for strategic resources at North Yorkshire County Council, has spoken of the authority's efforts in shielding the vulnerable and isolated across such a vast area.

While the body is ultimately responsible, he says the expertise and on-the-ground resourcefulness of the area's 23 Community Support Organisations are its strength.

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"North Yorkshire is a brilliant place when it comes to the community," he said. "They are so strong, and so resilient.

Volunteers are the 'lifeblood' of the nation, according to North Yorkshire County Council's director for strategic resources. Credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

"You must play to your strengths, and some of our strengths are these kinds of organisations. People don't think twice about helping others out."

The county council, with seven district councils, is now working closely with these 23 CSOs which are organising the voluntary sector within each locality.

Join our new coronavirus Facebook group for the latest confirmed news and advice as soon as we get it www.facebook.com/groups/yorkshirecoronavirusWhile many people can be supported by family, friends or neighbours, there are those in need of additional support and these voluntary groups are the ones delivering as a single point of contact.

There is already a solid core being strengthened in the county's communities through such groups reaching out, Mr Fielding said, and he hopes this will be the legacy which emerges from these difficult times.

"I hope we turn that into a key strength, that this kindness that is clearly there is something that continues.

"And I hope that people will continue to look after each other and their communities. Together we are stronger."

Some of North Yorkshire's communities are already quite independent and inward looking, said Mr Fielding.

For those that aren't, he adds, he believes the affiliations formed through this difficult time could make them stronger for the future.

"These North Yorkshire communities will get stronger," he said. "That would be a real mark of success."

And expressing his thanks to the many who have come forward to offer support, he added: "They are the lifeblood of the country. Without them, life would not be the same."

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