As part of our research Beyond Us and Them looking at the effects on social cohesion during Covid-19, we have been collecting inspiring examples of people and communities building connection and cohesion where they live:
Blackburn with Darwen is blessed with huge numbers of residents who give their time freely to support others. One such resident is 55 year old Neil Colquhoun who lives in Blackburn. Neil started volunteering last March after seeing an appeal for Telephone Befrienders to support people who were feeling isolated as a result of the first lockdown.
Neil said: “Watching the news as the pandemic hit in the UK, I felt helpless. I knew I needed to step up and do something to support people through this horrible time.
“Since March I’ve made weekly phone calls to a man called Dennis who was shielding at home and found it very isolating. I have felt better through the pandemic knowing that I’m doing something to help.”
In early 2021 Neil applied to be a volunteer marshal at local vaccination centres. He does one or two shifts a week, juggling volunteering with his work as a Student Safeguarding and Welfare Officer.
Neil added: “I wanted to be a part of the vaccination roll-out as, for me, it’s the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic.
“I also want to be able to look back on this period and know that I tried to make a difference.
“Volunteering is a win-win – someone benefits from a volunteer’s time, and the volunteer gets so much out of it too.
“A big thing for me about volunteering is how it’s made me feel, as well as helping others. “Volunteering during the pandemic has given me a positive feeling about myself when everything around me has seemed gloomy.
“I’d like to continue doing some form of volunteering, maybe getting out and about litter picking or something to help my local community.”
Community, Connection and Cohesion During Covid-19: Beyond Us and Them Report is the latest report in our Beyond Us and Them project looking at the effects of Covid-19 on social cohesion. Read the report here and explore the latest on the Beyond Us and Them project here.