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Coronavirus: Could you be a volunteer to help vulnerable get food?

PUBLISHED: 18:49 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 06:32 25 March 2020

Tom McCabe, head of paid service at Norfolk County Council. 
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Tom McCabe, head of paid service at Norfolk County Council. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

An army of volunteers will have a key role in making sure the region’s most vulnerable people still get food and support during the coronavirus pandemic, council bosses have said.

Community hubs are being created across Norfolk, tasked with getting food parcels and medicines to people who are unable to leave their homes, including older people and those with health conditions.

While 1.4m vulnerable people on an NHS list have been sent letters telling them they will get food delivered, there are thousands in Norfolk not on that list who will still need help.

Councils are putting in place the hubs to co-ordinate volunteers who will take food packages out to those people - and the EDP’s Here To Help campaign is part of the drive to recruit them.

Tom McCabe, head of paid service at Norfolk County Council and chairman of Norfolk Resilience Forum’s strategic co-ordinating group, said the first food packages could go out by the end of this week.

He said: “We will have our own lists of who we consider to be vulnerable. Some will be on that government list, but some will not be. We are trying to get prepared so that we can provide whatever assistance is required.”

Mr McCabe said the people on the government’s shielded list were likely to get their food delivered directly from the government, but local councils were ready to step in and help those who are vulnerable, but are not on the official list.

He said military planners were helping councils to get the system set up and council staff, such as from libraries and museums, were being redeployed to help with the aid distribution effort. But he said volunteers would be key.

He said: “There are lots of people who want to help. The challenge is to contact them, understand what they can do and to co-ordinate them. The government has said people can go out if they are assisting the vulnerable and we need to help keep them safe.

“Here To Help assists, because there might be an 80-year-old down the road, who has never sought any help, who needs it for the first time. If someone has put a postcard through her door and she says she does need help, it means she is not alone.”

People who would like to volunteer can register online at www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk/register-to-volunteer

MORE: The people, groups and communities helping people in their times of need

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