Date: 5th June, 2020
Members of Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum have marked National Volunteers’ Week by paying tribute to all those who have given their time and expertise for free during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of people across the county have provided an invaluable contribution to the emergency services and public services response during an unprecedented and challenging time.
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, who is the chair of the LRF, said the pandemic had brought out the very best in community spirit, with people from all backgrounds and walks of life going above and beyond to show their support.
He said: “Within the police service I have been blown away by the efforts of our volunteers, who carry out a huge range of roles to allow us to offer the best possible service to the public.
“One example is our Special Constabulary, where 124 officers have contributed more than 13,800 hours of volunteering during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“But that is just one example – we have police support volunteers, Community Speed Watch, restorative justice volunteers, Independent Advisory Groups, cadets, and many, many more.
“I take my hat off to them all. They epitomise public service and I hope they know how valued they are.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson has been a long-standing advocate and supporter of volunteers.
He said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be one the most challenging times for the police service in recent history, and I am proud of the way the Wiltshire Police family has pulled together through this crisis.
“Our army of volunteers has been a vital cog in the machine, supporting our police officers and staff in so many different ways and they deserve full credit and recognition for everything they have done.”
Wiltshire Council volunteers provide support in a number of different services such as children’s services, library services, leisure services, Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, refugee support and countryside.
Cllr Philip Whitehead, leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “At Wiltshire Council we have nothing but admiration for people who volunteer and give something back to their local community.
“In the last few months alone we have seen more than 400 community support groups quickly spring into action to support residents during the COVID-19 crisis. Wiltshire is a caring county and it’s reassuring that there are so many people out there ready to help when required.
“We regularly work with volunteers and we’d like to pay tribute to their commitment and this week is a great opportunity to thank them for everything they do and express our gratitude for their support.”
Over the course of the pandemic Swindon Borough Council, in partnership with the voluntary sector, has recruited 269 volunteers.
These people have been delivering essential supplies to those who cannot leave their home, as well as making welfare calls to those shielding.
In total, their volunteers have delivered 914 food boxes.
Cllr Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for adults and health, said: “Throughout this pandemic, volunteers have given their time to helping some of the most vulnerable people in the community, whether by delivering essential supplies to their doors or giving them a call over the phone to make sure they are not feeling lonely.
“My council colleagues and I have also been out and about delivering food and checking on the welfare of those who can’t get out. The past few months have been very difficult for a lot of people but it is reassuring to see so many people coming out to support their local community.
“This week is National Volunteers’ Week and it’s only right that we all say a big collective ‘thank you’ to everyone who has volunteered. So, on behalf of everybody at Swindon Borough Council – thank you everyone.”
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service currently has 120 volunteers, working throughout the organisation in 14 different roles, including photographers, heath patrols, Safe & Well support, boat safety, casualty role play and support for youth initiatives.
Prevention delivery manager Ian Hopkins said: “Volunteers are an invaluable part of the service, and we thank them all for their hard work, enthusiasm and commitment.
“Every day, they are helping us to improve lives and strengthen communities, and we really appreciate all the support they give to Dorset and Wiltshire FRS.”
Cara Charles-Barks, chief executive of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are lucky to have over 600 dedicated volunteers who make life that little bit better for so many people in hospital – they are part of the beating heart of our hospital family.”
Wiltshire Air Ambulance has 116 volunteers and the charity’s director of income generation and communications Barbara Gray said: “Our volunteers really do make a difference to our charity.
“The time they give is priceless as they spread awareness about our lifesaving work by giving talks and helping to fundraise by attending events, volunteering in our charity shops or distributing collection tins. We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers.”
Guy Parker, from the Environment Agency, said: “At the very first flood warden seminar at Salisbury Race Course in 2003 there were people from roughly 30 places like Upwey, Newton Tony and Shipton Bellinger. Today there are over 500 flood wardens in our Wessex area, all doing an amazing job for their communities and supporting us and their local flood authorities.
“They have created a mountain of community flood plans. They are a font of knowledge on all things flooding. They have bailed out their neighbours, closed roads, saved houses from flooding and, yes, saved people from drowning.
“They have taken thousands of photos and videos and filed hundreds of reports helping us to understand your rivers better, improving the flood warning service and providing us with the data that allows us to bid for funding to protect their communities.”
If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity for one of the organisations mentioned below, then please go to the appropriate website for more information.