NORTH Yorkshire is beginning the huge logistical challenge of co-ordinating the county’s community response to help those isolated by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a co-ordinated joint effort with district councils, North Yorkshire County Council is working with 23 community organisations the length and breadth of the county who will work with the voluntary sector in their locality.

Council leader Carl Les said: “We want to make it clear that people first and foremost should turn to family, neighbours and friends for help with things like getting in groceries or collecting medication or in delivering a hot meal.

“If this network is not available to them we would then ask them to make contact with church organisations, clubs, voluntary sector organisations they are supported by or societies they belong to.

“But North Yorkshire is known for its great spirit of generosity so that for those with no immediate network of support, we are working with district council colleagues and selected community organisations to deliver that support in their local area.”

The 23 community support organisations will be the single point of contact for the county and district councils and working with the local voluntary sector.

They will work with local voluntary sector groups to arrange things such as collection and delivery of shopping, prescriptions and caring for pets.

The first thing people wanting to help should do is to talk to family, friends and neighbours who may need help.

The county council is also urging them to contact local voluntary groups already known to them mindful that the Government’s regulations must be observed at all times.

Cllr Les said: “We don’t want volunteers travelling long distances to help out.

“They need to remain within their local area. Nor do we want them to put themselves or others in personal jeopardy.

“Like all of us, volunteers must follow the Government’s safety guidance on keeping a two metre distance from people and the regular washing of hands.

“If volunteers have specific or specialist skills to offer, again they should be in contact with local groups.

“They can also contact the county council customer service centre which can direct them to their local community support organisation which can process their offer of help.”

The county council is working with the community support organisations to bring in North Yorkshire Volunteer ID cards in line with Government guidance.

“The biggest help is maintaining contact with people who are alone and isolated” said Cllr Les. “We will be looking for volunteers above all who will be able to ring people up and chat with them.”

People needing help should contact the council’s customer service centre on 01609-780780 which will direct them to their local contact point.