Photo essay: community response

West Cheshire has showed true spirit over the last couple of months as communities have come together to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19). Volunteers have been at the very heart of the response. While Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA) has signposted volunteers to local charities and community initiatives, many other people have simply been good neighbours and checked up on vulnerable people in their streets. Without the support of volunteers, vulnerable people wouldn’t have been able to get the level of support they’ve received through the community response. As it’s currently Volunteers Week (1-7 June), this photo essay highlights some of the volunteers who have played their part when they were needed.

Volunteer Alison (above and below): “Normally, I’m cycling like a whirling dervish, teaching and making art in different centres around Chester. Now, I’m packing fruit and veg for the foodbank ready for the families to come and collect their supplies.”
Alison: “Project Sunshine delivers a sunflower seed in a pot to every single household in Handbridge, with the idea of cheering people up and making contact with people who might need help, or even just a chat to those who are isolated. The pots were made of newspaper. By the end, I could make 60 in an hour.”
Volunteer Kerry (above): “I would normally be working for a tour company and I have really enjoyed being part of the Blacon Action team. It is a really friendly group and it has given me something to do while I am on furlough. It is great to give something back to my community. “
Volunteer Dave (above): “My speciality is fruit and veg packing. My job in non-COVID times is working for a taxi company, taking children to special schools. I am enjoying being part of the Blacon Action team as they are nice people to work with.”
Volunteer Lily (above): “I wanted to support the NHS by making scrubs so I joined the For the Love of Scrubs Facebook group, which brought together other skilled seamstresses who were volunteering their time and talents to create scrub bags, caps and gowns for frontline workers at the Countess of Chester Hospital.”
Volunteer Henry (above): “The best part is having that sense of helping the community. The volunteering can be quite varied, but I particularly enjoy checking in and chatting with people rather than simply dropping things off. That makes you feel like you’re making a difference. When I volunteer at the Port Grocery, the amount of people there from different backgrounds is brilliant to see.”
Volunteers on Barony Way in Chester (above) have come together and 30 houses are supporting each other, with a number of senior residents who have health conditions living in the area. Volunteers have shopped, collected medication, taken part in gardening and befriended those living alone.
Volunteer Joanne (above): “With invaluable help from the Welcome Network, we found a home for surplus fresh food from The Chester Grosvenor.” Photo taken before social distancing
Volunteer Colin (above): “I would normally be looking after my grandchildren. It is really enjoyable doing the deliveries for the Blacon Action team. I have met a new bunch of people and it has been good to make contact with them.”  
Volunteer Georgia (above): “I was working in a shop. I am meeting a lot of people. Members of the Blacon community have been great and the people I am working with are a lot of fun.” 
Volunteer Louise (above): “I am a Curate at Holy Trinity Church in Blacon. I have been delivering food bags with my son, who is learning to drive. People are so grateful for the delivery and it is a real pleasure visiting them.”
Volunteer Ed (above): “I would be in the office writing emails. I have been delivering food bags for the Blacon Action team. I love seeing the people on the delivery round. It seems to cheer them up and we can have a socially-distanced chat.” 
Volunteer Kate (above): “I would normally be in the office doing admin. It has been great to get out and deliver food and make contact with people who aren’t able to go out.”
Volunteer Samuel (above): “I should have been taking my A Levels at Neston High School this summer. Instead, I’m using my time off school to help out at Sutton Village Foodbank, coordinating, packing and delivering food parcels.”
Volunteer Chelsea (above): “I’m due to start university this year. Until then, I’m helping run Sutton Village Foodbank by coordinating, packing and delivering food parcels.”
Volunteer Joseph (above): “I’ve just finished my Masters degree at Glasgow University and, now I’m back home, I’m volunteering as a coordinator at Ellesmere Port Self-isolation Help Scheme.”
Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) volunteer (above): “I think you can see from our uniforms what we might normally be doing. It has been great delivering food bags for the Blacon Action team. We get to meet the residents and it gives us the opportunity to have a chat and offer them our support.”
Volunteer Carol (above) works at Urenco: “I’m using my day off to volunteer at the Ellesmere Port Help Scheme, delivering supplies to people who are self isolating.”
Volunteers and father and son Kevin and Nick Lloyd (above): “We’ve been making deliveries for the Sutton Villages Foodbank Hub. My day job (Kevin]) is at Bookers and my son Nick is a manufacturing apprentice. We’re just glad we can help.”
Volunteer Lucy (above) has just graduated from Manchester University: “I’m helping out with general administration and coordinating deliveries at the Ellesmere Port Help Scheme.”

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