By Gill Knight, Community Builder for Paignton South – Goodrington, Roselands, White Rock, Hookhills, Broadsands, Galmpton and Churston
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
Can you remember the song Proud by Heather Small that was playing everywhere in 2012 during the extraordinary times of the Olympics? The nation was swept along with the feeling of inspiration, patriotism, and every effort at the Olympics was celebrated?
There are several lines within this song that we can apply to our extraordinary times now and numerous people across the bay have taken the challenge to ‘step out of the ordinary’ and volunteer to help others. The lines that followed include ‘you can do the same – it’s never too late to try – do it today’.
The need for volunteers has not yet gone away, just changed. I have spent the last 11-and-a half months working on the Torbay Community Helpline, set up quickly to answer questions, find solutions, and offer support to the many people across the Bay who were worried and didn’t know where to turn to as we entered the first lockdown.
The helpline has continued to expand its services, and is now supporting with food bank referrals, triaging mental health problems, weekly shopping and prescription collections, helping the isolated, domestic abuse referrals, financial advice and support, and befriending calls, to name but a few.
The success of the helpline, however, would not have been possible, without the magnificent support of an army of volunteers from across Torbay. People like Lionel and Jacqueline, Cathy G, and Richard, who give up their time to collect and deliver food parcels. Drew, Kate, Andrew and Sarah who when their own businesses had to close, offered their support with shopping and prescriptions. The ten people on the helpline itself who take your calls, listen to your problems and refer you to those who can help further.
Each and every one who has offered their time and services should feel proud of their work, and on behalf of those who have received your support a very big thank you – we should all feel proud of the response across the Bay – as further lines in the song say: “I can feel my spirit rising, I can see a clear horizon”… fingers crossed it’s on its way!