Salt of the Earth is a partnership between North Yorkshire County Council and the Darlington and Stockton Times to celebrate acts of kindness across our communities, Alexa Fox reports.

A DALES man is on a mission to embrace people with a 'group hug' to help them feel better during tough times.

Jonathan Greenwood swapped his busy city life in Leeds for the Yorkshire Dales after a series of family bereavements led to him struggling with his mental health and re-assessing his life.

Since then, he has thrown himself into various fundraising exploits - including donating money from his hen eggs to Yorkshire Cancer Research - and has been helping to orchestrate the delivery of goody bags to people during lockdown.

He has also turned his attention to developing a 'Group Hug' app which will involve up to 30 volunteers talking via phone message to people in need of a friendly chat.

Mr Greenwood is currently fundraising to get the app off the ground and needs to raise around £60,000 to implement the necessary frameworks, training and relevant checks for the volunteers.

He said: "Effectively, it is a free app that you would download onto your phone and should you be in a position where you wanted to talk about absolutely anything to an anonymous volunteer, you would answer some questions and meet some general criteria before you are put through to text chat with a volunteer.

The Northern Echo:

Jonathan Greenwood

"They are not a counsellor, they are just a lay person who will be there to listen to you offload your mind and signpost to other sources of support.

"Sometimes simply sharing your worries with somebody can help you through a problem."

Understandably, the app's development has been affected by the coronavirus lockdown but Mr Greenwood is confident that he can secure the necessary funds to be able to launch it next spring.

In the meantime, he has turned his attention to spreading some much-needed cheer during lockdown.

Working with the Covid-19 hubs across the Dales - and with the help and support of dozens of local businesses - Mr Greenwood has aided the delivery of more than 1,000 goody bags which bear the Group Hug logo and the slogan 'We Will Meet Again' in reference to a line in the Queen's recent address to the nation.

The Northern Echo:

The bags have been sent to vulnerable people across the area and contain a host of treats donated by North Yorkshire businesses.

They also include a booklet with messages from church groups and coupons for local hotels and restaurants which link to the message of meeting people again.

Mr Greenwood said that people have been touched by the sentiment of the bags and he has received further funds from North Yorkshire County Council's locality budget to send out a further 800 as of today.

He said: "The response has been amazing, people have really pulled together and businesses have been so generous.

"I even had someone put £100 through my door to help fund the goody bags. I looked out and they'd gone, but how amazing is it that someone would just do that?"

The goody bags are aimed at vulnerable people and key workers. People can nominate someone to receive one by visiting

  • Do you know someone going the extra mile in their community? Nominate them to feature in the Salt of The Earth movement by email to