A WOMAN has set up a coronavirus support network and is now appealing for businesses to get on board.

Darlington woman Kimberly Scott set up a group for vulnerable and isolated people to ask for help, whether they need support or a carton of milk.

The Facebook-based "Conorvirus Support for the Vulnerable Darlington" was created on the evening of March 13 and now has over 300 members.

It comes after Ms Scott posted in a community group asking for help in helping others – a post that attracted over 700 comments.

She said: “I wasn’t expecting this. I posted and thought my neighbour or something would help out, but we now have a logo and leaflets.

"A lot of those are volunteers but a lot are also those that require support. A lot of elderly in the group say how worried they are about going out.”

Ms Scott, who has “always had caring bones”, decided to offer support to those impacted by coronavirus after a conversation with her mum.

She added: “My mum is disabled and has diabetes and asthma, and my son has asthma. I was with her one day like oh good job you have me isn’t it?

“But then thought about those that don’t, or even the parents of kids with health problems. Their children could have complex issues. It’s not even about being healthy yourself because if you go out, you risk passing it on to those in your family that aren’t.”

Businesses are being urged to come forward as drop off points and sponsors.

Due to previous work as a carer and foster carer, Ms Scott already has a DBS check, as do some members of the group, but she wants all volunteers to have them to add peace of mind for the vulnerable. This, however, would be costly.

“We must organise properly to protect ourselves and people we’re helping,” Ms Scott said.

“There are scammers out there so we’re trying to figure out the best way of doing this. We are here to help and can’t let things get in the way of that. The last thing we want is to rush into it because that's when mistakes happen.

“It’s best to get something in place just in case, at least we have a collaborative service going forward. Public services and people are going to be stretched and stressed so if we can help to provide some support that’s a start.”

Dealing with anxiety, Ms Scott often finds it difficult to leave the house but in helping others via this group, she is able to help herself.

Stephen Morgan, 34, runs Inner Tranquility, on Neasham Road, with his partner. The business will become a local drop off point and distributor to food banks.

He said: “We all need to be responsible for what happens next. Both my partner and I agree our business needs to take responsibility where it can too. We can help people around Darlington and the surrounding villages who may feel the impact of panicking buying, shortages or general inability to maintain their daily life due to isolation or other vulnerability.”

Also a member of the group is Tracy Peters, who is in her 40s and suffers panic, anxiety, knee and back problems.

She said: “I require support but also want to help. I'm disabled so I'm not working at the moment, but I have a media and NHS background. I want to help because I have a social conscience and empathy for people.”

Search Coronavirus Support for the Vulnerable Darlington on Facebook to get involved.