County Durham is mobilising a huge community response to support vulnerable people through the coronavirus crisis.
Supported by the Durham Miners' Association (DMA), a local charity is stepping up effort to mobilise a huge community response to support vulnerable people through the Covid-19 crisis.
East Durham Trust (EDT) is recruiting additional volunteers to take their services to the next level.
EDT already runs services such as a Foodbank and a Telephone helpline for vulnerable people. The former coal mining area of East Durham has some of the most vulnerable older people in the UK and some of the worst levels of ill health and poverty in Europe.
The EDT response it is likely to be rolled out rapidly throughout the county as the need for community-based support rises.
The initiative - sparked by EDT, the DMA, and Durham County Council - aims to help relieve pressure on the NHS and add vital support to other public services.
It will be based around the emergency planning structures already in place such as the local foodbank and other services aimed at supporting people facing crisis, but will provide an army of volunteers to assist people in their own homes or other care facilities which will struggle to cope.
EDT managing director Malcolm Fallow said: “We have to act quickly to get people and supplies in place. The aim is to support the emergency response with community mobilisation on a scale we have rarely seen. Fortunately we have structures in place to deliver that support and we still have the strong sense of community to make it happen.
"In the coming weeks and months it will be essential that we support the most vulnerable and isolated in the best way we can. We will do this by ensuring the good communications and co-ordination experience we have through running food banks and other initiatives is used to best effect.
“As a first step we are looking to add to our army of volunteers and anyone who is interested should get in touch. This is an unprecedented situation and we don’t know exactly what the service will look like but we need to be up and ready to respond”.
DMA Secretary Alan Mardghum said: “The response to our call has been swift and most welcome. Many of our members are scared and worried about what the immediate future might bring. Many are suffering from ill-health due working in the pits. Many are not well off. The DMA has a long tradition of supporting our communities and we feel we should do everything we can to help now. We will be asking for volunteers to support the EDT action and appealing to our people throughout the county to do as much as they can.”
To volunteer, or for more information, contact East Durham Trust on 0191 569 3511.
*pictured is the DMA Newfield Lodge banner from 1896