Gedling Borough Council has sent a heartfelt thank you message to more than 500 people who signed up as volunteers as part of the borough’s pandemic response.
In April, the council opened the Giving for Gedling Humanitarian Centre to help those in need throughout the borough.
The council asked for volunteers to provide assistance preparing and distributing food parcels as well as carrying out neighbourhood checks and offering assistance to elderly and vulnerable residents.
Over 500 residents contacted the council to offer their help after seeing the request on the council’s website and social media pages.
To date more than 800 households have received support and 600 food parcels have been delivered to residents in need by volunteers and council officers. Other volunteers have been signposted to, and supported, organisations such as Age Concern and Autistic Nottingham.
As well as the support residents have received directly from the humanitarian centre, £25,000 has also been raised to support foodbanks throughout the borough.
The volunteers who put themselves forward were a mix of first timers and experienced volunteers, with many taking it upon themselves to check in with neighbours and shielding family members to make sure they were ok.
Amanda Wheldon, from Carlton, was one of the volunteers who has been supporting her community. After seeing the call out on the council’s Facebook page she got in touch and has been delivering food parcels through the local area.
Amanda said: “This was my first time volunteering but I felt I wanted to help in some way to support those in need and it was an absolute pleasure to help and support the community.
“I’ve been delivering food parcels throughout the local area, as well as speaking to many of the people I visited to make sure they were ok and checking if they need anything else.
“It’s definitely made me feel more outgoing. I started out feeling a little nervous but the process really helped with my confidence and I’m keen to continue volunteering in the future.”
Nicola Murphy and husband, David, who live in Gedling, volunteered to cook meals in the kitchen at the centre after being forced to close their pub It’s Inn The Bank in Netherfield due to lockdown.
Mrs Murphy said: “”After myself and my husband David had to close our pub, being given the opportunity to volunteer to provide freshly cooked meals from the distribution kitchen at the Richard Herrod Centre for the local community has kept us busy.
“We have cooked approx 4000 meals so far and have met some amazing people who also are working here providing care packages in these uncertain times.
“Gedling Borough Council and all their staff have done an amazing job at getting the kitchen up and running in such a short space of time, and the local community have also provided donations – it’s all quite overwhelming”
Melissa Gossington, from Carlton, is another volunteer who has been helping the community. Melissa has previous experience volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Society and helping others is something Melissa was happy to do with the extra spare time she had.
Melissa said: “Volunteering just makes me feel happy, I can fit it in around working from home and I’ve enjoyed helping out the community, driving around to pick up and deliver food parcels.
It’s made me realise just how vulnerable some of the elderly residents in my community are and I just wish I could do more to help them, but it’s been important to follow the social distancing rules. The parcels have been full of good quality food items and freshly cooked meals, it’s been wonderful for many of the people receiving the parcels. I’m really glad I’ve been able to help”
Portfolio Holder for Communities, Councillor Gary Gregory said the council were ‘humbled’ by the response from teh local community.
He said: “The support we have had from residents who want to volunteer at the Giving for Gedling Humanitarian Centre has been nothing short of astonishing. We are very humbled by the response we’ve had from local people who want to help their communities.
“Staff from all over the council have been working alongside this fantastic army of volunteers to really make a difference to those who need it. I have no doubt that once things begin to return to normal, many of those who have offered their time and help will continue to look at ways to continue volunteering.
“Everyone at Gedling Borough Council would like to offer their sincerest thanks to those involved with this great cause and to all the wonderful volunteers who have given up their time to help our most vulnerable residents, we couldn’t do this without you.”