Volunteer group come to rescue in snow

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Community-minded volunteers have helped the council keep residents safe and services moving during the severe snowy weather.

Derbyshire County Council’s emergency volunteers have been on standby to help with issues such as getting residents to medical appointments and transporting staff who care for older and vulnerable people.

They work alongside other services such as our gritting and ploughing teams and adult care to provide additional support in severe conditions.

Chris Newbold, 62, from North Wingfield, signed up as one of our volunteer three months ago and over the last 24 hours has been using his 4x4 to ferry staff to work at our residential care homes.

The self-employed garage owner said: “It’s vital those elderly people have the right carers to look after them and using my 4x4 I can easily get staff safely through the snow to work.

“I don’t like to see people having problems and really enjoy doing my bit to help them − it’s a great feeling and I would encourage anyone to sign up to be a volunteer.

“It’s a very worthwhile service, you get to meet some really interesting people and the residents you’re helping really do appreciate it.”

The Derbyshire Emergency Volunteers (DEVs) was set up in 2012 to look after residents who have to be evacuated from their homes following major incidents such as fires, floods or gas leaks and to help vulnerable people during severe weather and health incidents.

Volunteers work alongside our emergency planning team, adult care staff and other agencies to make sure evacuees have what they need while staying in a rest centre − a building such as a leisure centre or village hall used during an evacuation.

This includes registering residents and providing them with refreshments and information, making sure ill and vulnerable residents have their medication and that pets are cared for too.

In other emergencies such as severe snow, volunteers are called on to help support vulnerable residents by delivering prescriptions and food supplies within their local area. We currently have around 90 DEVs but more recruits are needed to join the team.

Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to our volunteers like Chris who put themselves out in all weathers and situations to do their bit for their community.

“We’re always looking for new recruits and volunteering for this role is a fantastic opportunity to work alongside our staff and other agencies to see how they operate in a crisis.

“Applicants don’t need any special qualifications − just a desire to help out and do their bit and it can be great work experience for young people. Our volunteers do a fantastic job and we’re keen to hear from more people hoping to sign up.”

Applicants should be aged 18 or over. No special skills or qualifications are needed and full training is provided including an induction day to provide a basic understanding of the team’s role. Those who wish to continue will attend a one-day key skills course including First Aid, health and safety and safeguarding.

Residents interested in volunteering should call Paula McDonald in our emergency planning team on 01629 538364, email paula.mcdonald@derbyshire.gov.uk or can register their interest at www.derbyshireprepared.org.uk.