COUNCILS and emergency services are encouraging residents to be good neighbours during the coronavirus pandemic.

Durham County Council and Darlington Borough Council are working with partner agencies to share advice and tips to help communities support each other, including vulnerable people who have to isolate themselves for 12 weeks in order to be shielded from the virus.

To collect essential food items or prescriptions on someone's behalf, it should be done while residents are either getting their own essentials or taking their daily exercise and items should be left on the doorstep to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Local GPs or pharmacies may be able to arrange prescription deliveries.

A simple conversation over the fence or on the telephone could provide emotional support.

Anyone in need of extra support or feeling more isolated can also access the virtual community hubs set up by both Durham County Council and Darlington Borough Council.

They were developed to support people and families who are vulnerable and in need during the coronavirus pandemic, linking them to existing local services where possible and supporting them with essential aid where necessary.

For information on those and help forums visit the councils’ websites at and

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “It is more important than ever to look out for each other. As the lockdown period continues many people, especially those who are vulnerable, will feel increasingly anxious and isolated.

“Simple and safe steps to keep in touch with those people, offer to collect some essentials for them, or even to point them towards our community hubs if they need more support, will make a big difference in helping them feel more comfortable.”

Councillor Jonathan Dulston, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for stronger communities, said: “I am proud that, in Darlington, we are seeing and hearing about wonderful examples of good neighbourliness and people looking out for one another as we continue to face this pandemic.

“The council has been working closely with community groups and hundreds of people have volunteered to help vulnerable people as part of the Darlington Cares: Community initiative. That’s great to see. There’s never been a better time to get to know your neighbours, especially if they may be vulnerable, in a socially-distanced way of course. All the examples of people helping one another really have been heart-warming to see.”

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service asks people to remind elderly or vulnerable friends and neighbours to keep checking their smoke alarms and be mindful of fire safety in the home and garden.

Graeme Metcalf, Group Manager for community risk management, said: “Being a good neighbour can be as simple as being considerate if you are having a garden fire and when you’re having that chat over the fence or at the bottom of the drive, asking if they are ok or need any help or just reminding people to double check their smoke alarms are working – that in itself could save someone’s life.”

Following a slight rise in the number of garden fires earlier this month, CDDFRS is also asking the public to refrain from burning their garden waste until normal waste disposal services resume. In addition to the concern that garden fires could get out of hand and put people at risk, residents are asked to be considerate to their neighbours who could be using their gardens for the only fresh air that they can get.

Durham Constabulary encourages to look out for neighbours by reporting any suspicious behaviour to police and to take part in neighbourhood watch schemes. This includes being alert to online safety.

Superintendent Richie Allen said: “The message about staying safe doesn’t just apply to people going out and about. At a time when many more of us are looking to social media and video platforms to stay connected, we would urge people to remember how to stay safe online.

“Make sure you are using recognised platforms to connect with people, don’t share large amounts of personal information online – even if it is a fun Facebook quiz and try to stay aware of scams. If you hear about scams or issues, remember to tell your friends and neighbours about them as part of being a good ‘digital’ neighbour too.”

For further information about staying safe online and reporting online scams, visit the National Cyber Security Centre or Internet Matters

More advice on how to support your neighbours is available at