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  1. Published on: 03/06/2020 01:41 PMReported by: roving-eye
    By Damien Moore, MP for Southport

    Volunteers' Week takes place this week (1 - 7 June). Usually it’s a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. We would normally see events being held to showcase great examples of volunteering, and awards nights to see them being given the recognition they so rightfully deserve.

    Unfortunately, with Southport and the United Kingdom tackling this pandemic, our volunteers are all busy focusing their efforts on helping people within our community cope with its many consequences.

    Volunteers during this difficult period have really redoubled their efforts. We saw that in March when the Coronavirus outbreak broke, and our Government launched an urgent appeal for 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS cope with the impact of Covid-19. The response was incredible, instant and heartwarming.

    Southport & Ormskirk NHS Hospitals Trust started a Covid-19: Urgent staff, volunteer and patient welfare appeal, and volunteers of all ages have helped to raise thousands of pounds for this great cause in all kinds of ways. Eight-year-old artist Seren Farrington for example raised more than £1,500 after selling pictures which she drew around the world.

    Other Southport children have done outstanding things too. Harry Wareing, aged 11, has raised over £1,000 by cycling 200 miles during May to raise money for Southport Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Zara Smith, aged 10, who wants to be a doctor when she is older, donated all her surgical face masks to Queenscourt Hospice. Sienna Aldred, aged nine, ran the equivalent of a marathon (26.2miles) to raise money for the Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust Charitable Fund. And three baby loss charitable organisations, CRADLE, Lighthouses Therapy Services and 4Louis, led a remarkable campaign to create special memory boxes, which have been handed over to bereaved families of patients who tragically died with Covid-19 at Southport Hospital and Ormskirk Hospital.

    In the past few months, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also revealed a wide range of measures to help people affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus. The latest figures released by HM Revenue and Customs showed 8.7 million UK employees from 1.1 million businesses have now had their jobs and the majority of their wages protected through our innovative furlough scheme. The scheme sees the Government underwrite 80 percent of the salaries of workers, up to a ceiling of £2,500 a month.

    While people have been temporarily away from work, I have been impressed by seeing so many people in Southport use their new-found available time to devote to volunteering and helping others in need.

    Lots of people in Southport have been giving up their time to deliver food parcels to vulnerable and elderly residents, and those who are shielding. Others have been dropping off prescriptions. Southport Hesketh Round Table and Knock ‘N’ Drop set up a scheme to deliver grocery packs to say thank you to our local heroes during this crisis.

    Local businesses, despite being impacted by the economic consequences of Coronavirus, pitched in too.

    Louie and Tanya Gaffney, owners of Playtown at Ocean Plaza, used the kitchens at their play centre to cook hot meals and deliver them to vulnerable and isolated people across Southport.

    Andrew Mikhail turned the Bold Hotel on Lord Street into an emergency food store for NHS staff, key workers and vulnerable people, and opened up his hotel rooms to essential workers.

    The Covid-19 Southport Support(Corona virus 2020) Facebook group has attracted more than 5,000 members and has created a network of volunteers looking out for people in need of help during the coronavirus outbreak.

    Queenscourt Hospice has seen a drop in its income through the closure of its charity shops and the cancellation of its Star Trekk Walk, but their tremendous volunteers have done everything they can to keep supporting them through these challenging times.

    And Southport Lifeboat, crewed entirely by volunteers, has been called out numerous times to rescue people who have found themselves in difficulties along the Sefton coastline.

    Volunteers’ Week provides us with a time to step back, albeit slightly, and commend all those who do so much for others in such a selfless fashion. The Coronavirus crisis has brought out the very best in so many people in Southport. It has shown the huge sense of community spirit that we have in our town.

    If there are any other great stories of volunteers who have made their mark during the Coronavirus crisis, please comment below - I would like to thank each and every one of you.

    Thank you.

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