A GRASSROOTS charity is asking NHS responders to swell its ranks to ensure volunteers stay connected as lockdown eases – because the vulnerable still need support.

Organisers of Darlington Support fear no one knows when or how big the second wave of coronavirus will be, making it important to keep Darlington volunteers active and organised.

Darlington Support was set up to ease pressures of coronavirus and today assists residents with shopping, prescriptions and dog-walking to "hold on strongly to the precious bonds that were developed across our town".

The group is inviting NHS responders, who use a national government system to match them with jobs locally, to join its ranks.

Haughton councillor and charity trustee Chris McEwan, said: "NHS volunteers have the potential of making a positive impact in our town if they join Darlington Support and start receiving information about new volunteering opportunities across the town.

"By inviting these kind-hearted individuals to join, we are ensuring that there is one local strong group in Darlington to create a positive legacy out of this difficult situation."

The newly-registered charity has recently expanded its services, establishing partnerships with Darlington Council, Darlington Football Club and other local groups, to continue its work past the pandemic.

As a result of this growth, it has opportunities to help Darlington Library, King's Church Foodbank, The Bread and Butter Thing charity, Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington and Healthwatch Darlington.

NHS responder Mike Renton, also on the charity's board of trustees, believes NHS volunteers would benefit from Darlington Support's community and structure.

He said: "Because of the two contrasting approaches of a national scheme and a local community group, NHS volunteers have been carrying out their valuable community work without the support and guidance of any local structure and without benefitting from the strong personal bonds that develop amongst members of the same team and there is no framework to enable them to help and assist other good causes and charities in Darlington."

College ward councillor Matthew Snedker, reiterated: “One of the lessons that we all learned from this crisis is that there are many people in our community who are keen on helping others.

"It is important not to let the opportunities that came about in a painful manner be lost in vain.

"Instead, we must hold on strongly to the precious bonds that were developed across our town."

If you are an NHS responder who would like to join Darlington Support, visit darlingtonsupport.uk/nhs or email: nhs@darlingtonsupport.uk