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Age UK praises young volunteers for their dedication

17 June 2020  |  Jill Lundberg  |  Posted in:

Four kind-hearted, young volunteers are helping the elderly and vulnerable in Richmondshire by supporting Age UK with home deliveries of essential provisions. George Smith, a Year 13 student at Richmond Sixth Form College, and his sisters, Connie and Hannah, and friend Arte Dawson, all former-students, are devoting time each week to offer their valuable support.

The lockdown in March resulted in elderly and vulnerable people needing assistance to get their food shopping and prescriptions. In addition, as family, friends and some carers could no longer visit, cooking a daily hot meal became a major issue for many people. Hannah, Connie, George and Arte wanted to do something to help. By volunteering for    Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington (NYD), they have offered support by delivering shopping, food parcels and a daily hot meal.

Two-course hot meals and shopping are provided, seven days a week, by Thorpe Farm on the A66 and the White Swan, Gilling West. George, Hannah, Connie and Arte collect the shopping, already boxed-up from Thorpe farm, and deliver it for free to customers who live in the Richmond and Leyburn area. They have also delivered free food parcels supplied by Vicky Pattison and her Help the Elderly project.

The four volunteers have been helping two to three times each week, since the lockdown started in March, working two-hour shifts over lunch time and then different times when delivering shopping.  Providing a vital lifeline to those in need, they join a team of four who deliver around 30 meals each day, and up to 50 roast dinners on a Sunday, across the Richmond and Barnard Castle area.

Hannah said: “”A lot of the people we are delivering to are self-isolating and currently have no contact with the outside world, so it’s nice to have been a friendly face for them as we deliver.” Connie added: “It’s been lovely to be able to help people and see how much they appreciate it.”

They all agreed that they have really enjoyed getting to know some of the people we have delivered to and hope to stay in touch.

George, Hannah, Connie and Arte are among the youngest volunteering for Age UK NYD, and are part a great team of volunteers, from all walks of life and different ages who support the lonely, isolated and elderly across Richmondshire.  Age UK NYD are really grateful for all of their time and effort.

Kate Marriott, Richmondshire Coordinator for Age UK, said: “I am very proud of George, Hannah, Connie and Arte for wanting to get involved and for continuing to deliver the hot meals and shopping for all of this time, especially as they are still studying and have returned to work. They have built some lovely relationships with the elderly people they deliver to and they have learnt that volunteering can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. I really hope that their experience will inspire more young people to get involved in volunteering for Age UK NYD.”

Leslie Richardson, Head of Richmond Sixth Form College, commented: “It is wonderful to hear of the kindness and community spirit our present and former students are showing. Delivering food and medicines is a vital service, particularly in the rural areas these young people are very familiar with. We are extremely proud of George, Hannah, Connie and Arte- four of the nicest people you could wish to meet! All of them were very highly regarded when they were students here and we know that they will have a long lasting connection with this area and Richmond School and Sixth Form College.

Age UK NYD, like many charities at this time, is facing extraordinary challenges to deliver much-needed front line services to older people who are especially vulnerable. Age UK NYD is a local independent charity committed to enhancing the health and wellbeing of older people by promoting quality-assured activity, information and care; ensuring that older people have opportunity for choice and continued independence. More information can be found at Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington and on their Facebook page

A special mention to Jean, the lady pictured in the second shot in the image gallery. George Smith and Connie Smith pictured with a lady called Jean. Jean is 94 years old and knits teddy bears and donates them to charities, including the Air Ambulance and Emergency services. She gave Connie and George some teddies and some have also gone to Moorside Primary School and Nursery in Ripon.

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