'Hero' voluntary and community sector in Sunderland praised for 'stepping up' during pandemic

Praise has been given to the “heroes” in the voluntary and community sector who have supported residents during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 6:23 pm
Town End Farm Community Centre, Sunderland.
Town End Farm Community Centre, Sunderland.

Councillors on the North Sunderland Area Committee marked their first in-person meeting since before lockdown restrictions began by honouring the contribution of volunteers towards supporting those in need.

This included aiding those who faced unemployment, food poverty and mental health and social isolation issues.

Cllr Denny Wilson, chair of the committee, said the voluntary and community sector (VCS) “stepped up” to the challenge of the pandemic and carried out crucial work in the region.

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The Castle ward representative said: “I wouldn’t have liked to see what would have happened if these people hadn’t stepped up, they’ve been amazing.

“I think if there is any good thing coming out of Covid, the gaps that were there, people are now on to them.

“The voluntary and community sector, they’ve all been heroes, they’ve been fabulous.”

Speaking at the committee meeting at Town End Farm Community Centre on Wednesday evening, he added the council is continuing to work closely with the VCS, Gentoo and the Clinical Commissioning Group on the issues which have arisen.

It came after Ruth Walker, VCS north area network representative, provided an update to councillors and those in attendance on work carried out in recent months.

She said: “The North Area VCS supported the community across the area over the course of the pandemic, I don’t know of many organisations that haven’t worked with us.

“We’ve created some really great partnerships and matched up brilliant volunteers to support us through that as well.

“Obviously there’s been issues around unemployment, furlough, food poverty, we’ve been trying to address those along with the mental health and social isolation that people have gone through the past two years.”

She added work has been taking place on numerous projects to help tackle such issues.

Cllr Michael Hartnack, Fulwell ward representative, particularly praised the “incredible” work carried out by Mrs Walker, along with others across the sector.

He said: “The work that she’s done and the efforts that she’s put in and the times of night that she’s actually coming out to support the community, was absolutely incredible.

“There are some brilliant people working in those organisations that we are supporting and doing a brilliant job.”