TWO volunteers have been doing their bit to make sure residents – including some of our most vulnerable and isolated – are getting the latest coronavirus support and information.
Carol Shepherdson and John Lees are among the countless number of local people who are going above and beyond to ensure their fellow Oldhamers remain safe and well.
They are part of our doorstep Engagement Team and along with fellow volunteers from Action Together and council staff they’ve been donning hi-viz jackets and knocking on doors.
The teams, who follow social distancing rules, have visited more than 20,000 properties across the borough letting people know we are here for them and how they can access support from services such as the Oldham Council Helpline.
They’ve also been a friendly face on the doorstep during these uncertain times.
Volunteering is nothing new to Carol as every Friday she goes out with the South Chadderton Methodist Church Street Pastors.
Staff who have worked with the former Greater Manchester Police worker say ‘she’s got a lovely manner about her and this so calming, she just knows what to say at the right time. It’s a real privilege for her to spend her time supporting the team’.
Carol said: “Most people I talk with have really appreciated the support and help on offer. People like to chat and having a couple of minutes to listen to people can make someone’s day. Having human contact makes such a huge difference.
“My aim is to make people feel someone’s out their wanting to offer support and help. I love it when I get them to smile, as when this happens I know I’m making a difference.”
Father-of-four John recently retired from his job supporting people with mental health issues and before that he worked at Setons for more than 28 years.
He likes to keep busy and that was one of the reasons he decided to volunteer with Action Together in March, working two afternoons a week at the Oldham Foodbank.
The 65-year-old delivered food to people’s houses, providing an essential service for the community.
Since joining the engagement team he’s been able to give advice around mental health thanks to his previous experience.
He said: “I’d recommend anyone to take up volunteering. It’s a great way to stay in contact with people and I feel I’m helping to ensure the people of Oldham remain safe and well.”
Councillor Arooj Shah, Deputy Leader of Oldham Council and Cabinet Member for COVID-19 Response, said: “I can’t thank people like Carol and John enough for the work they are doing to help and support people. They are a real credit to the borough.
“The last seven months have shown volunteers from Action Together, working alongside staff from the council and our partner organisations, are making a real difference.
“I’m really proud of how people are pulling together during the pandemic and showing resilience, determination and community spirit.”
If you would like to volunteer or learn more visit https://www.actiontogether.org.uk/
We’d love to hear your stories, see your photos, and share your experiences of how the community is pulling together across Oldham during the pandemic.