Thanks to everyone for making #SomersetProud

Somerset’s five local authorities celebrated Somerset Day by thanking everyone who has helped to keep communities safe, well, and connected throughout the coronavirus emergency.

Hundreds of volunteers, staff from Somerset’s councils, key workers and the NHS are working around the clock – and now the five local authorities have said: ”Thank you, you’ve made #SomersetProud.”

Typical of the groundswell of support across the county is Coronavirus Community Help Taunton – a Facebook based group which is made up of around 40 sub-groups across the Somerset West and Taunton area supporting elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating residents with the help they need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Natalie Dyson, who co-founded the group with Gabrielle Andrews, said the real heroes are the huge army of volunteers and co-ordinators delivering assistance “at the coal face” as well as the hugely generous local business community that had stepped up to support the groups.

She added: “I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of our coordinators, volunteers, call handlers and the local companies who have kindly donated their time to help us. I don’t think there is a day that has gone by where I haven’t been in tears. It’s been such an emotional and heart-warming experience and I am proud to be a member of such a supportive community”.

The response to the pandemic in Somerset has been astounding across the whole county. Council staff have also stepped forward to be redeployed in vital new roles from helping to deliver PPE (personal protective equipment) packs to taking shifts at the Contact Centre taking calls from residents.

The five local authorities are working with Spark Somerset to co-ordinate the army of volunteers who came forward with offers of help at the start of the lockdown in March.

People can log on to www.corona-helpers.co.uk to register as a volunteer. If anyone has signed up to NHS Responders we would also encourage you to contact Spark Somerset on 01460 202970 or email support@sparksomerset.org.uk so that we can also explore and link you in with other opportunities locally

As well as the online resources for groups to help them manage COVID-19 support groups safely and effectively, Spark Somerset is delivering a free programme of webinars for Somerset voluntary and community groups.

For more information about Somerset County Council’s response to the coronavirus emergency please visit www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus, where you can also sign up for regular email updates.

A single phone number is also available for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from their councils. The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, makes it easier for people to access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, during the current crisis. Lines are open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm.