VOLUNTEERS have been providing a lifeline to hundreds of elderly and vulnerable residents in Winsford throughout the pandemic.

Mum Jo Conchie set up a Good Neighbour scheme, recruited volunteers and organised an emergency outreach service.

The 38-year-old was named Most Inspiring Rural Community Campaigner in the Community Champions in a Hall of Fame which honours unsung heroes who have helped the most vulnerable in the UK.

Now, after supporting people for more than four months and as shielding is suspended, Jo and her team of volunteers want to say a big thank you to all the people they they have befriended.

"It has been such an honour for all of us at Good Neighbour to be able to support you through such a challenging time," said Jo, from Winsford. "We want to say thank you for putting your trust in us. We hope that we’ve helped make some of the hard times a bit easier for you."

Jo secured insurance and funding, set up a helpline and took daily referrals from the council, NHS agencies, GPs, social workers, emergency services, pharmacies, vulnerable people themselves. Even families living as far away as New Zealand asked her to check up on their elderly relatives.

"We've helped hundreds of people with shopping, collecting prescriptions, paying bills, walking dogs, making reassuring phone calls and with many other tasks that people have been unable to do themselves," she said.

The team has been helping residents prepare for the transition out of shielding.

"Over the last few weeks we have been providing help, advice packs, face coverings, hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and handwash to those getting ready to make the transition out of shielding," said Jo. "We want to make sure these people feel as safe and comfortable as possible before starting to ease back into some normality.

"We want to give people a safe and confident way of getting some normality back to their lives."

However, dedicated volunteers are not abandoning residents who they believe still need help.

Jo said: "We are continuing to support a number of vulnerable people that need us in a variety of ways and will be providing this help on a longer-term basis.

"Things will be very different than they were before lockdown started, but please stay safe and try to enjoy some of your new freedom. "The virus is still there and we still need to be aware of it but if we’re sensible we can hopefully live alongside it."

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Jo said she could not have achieved so much without the help and support of volunteers.

"It was my idea," said Jo, a freelance TV producer. "I felt that vulnerable people would not have anyone to turn to. There is no way I would have been able to do this without all our volunteers. It's been a team effort.

"I've been amazed by how kind and generous they have been with their time. Everyone has different skill sets and they all gel together.

"People have described us as angels and say they don't know how they'd cope without us. It's nice to show what Winsford is all about."