A new COVID-19 Community Toolkit has been launched to support volunteers in helping their communities during the pandemic.

The new information pack available on Cornwall Council’s website includes a list of key contacts, resources and information to help volunteers, residents and others in the community support each other, for example with shopping, prescription collections and befriending.

It also contains advice for volunteers on staying safe while volunteering; safety tips for residents when accepting help from others; and information for anyone wanting to set up a community group.

The COVID-19 Community Toolkit supports and celebrates the tireless work of compassionate communities across Cornwall who have come together to offer help to residents needing assistance during the lockdown.

There are already nearly 290 registered community groups covering the whole of Cornwall currently providing people with the support they need and it is hoped the new guide will help more people offer community assistance.

Anyone can view and download the Toolkit from the Council’s website.

The guide advises that a resident can provide help and support safely in the community if they are healthy, aged under 70, not pregnant, have no long-term health conditions and follow up-to-date Government health and safety advice.

The Toolkit gives ideas on looking after mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus pandemic and having a support system in place, for example friends and family, peer supporters or volunteer meetings.

It also outlines Cornwall Council’s processes for dealing with safeguarding concerns and stresses the importance of being open and transparent and observing social distancing.

For residents receiving support there are tips on staying safe while accepting help, for example if anyone has doubts about a volunteer who calls around they should ask for ID and never share financial details like credit and debit card numbers or other personal information.

If a person has concern about a volunteer, they can call Volunteer Cornwall for advice on 01872 265309.

Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for climate change and neighbourhoods, said: “We know that many established community groups across Cornwall are doing incredible work to support their communities during this pandemic and many groups already have great resources.

“Our new COVID-19 Community Toolkit both celebrates that great work and we hope provides a useful resource for existing volunteers, those considering volunteering, community groups as well as our residents receiving help.

“We are committed to supporting the amazing efforts going on in local communities to provide help to those who need it and we thank everyone for coming together to look after each other in these difficult times.”

Volunteer Cornwall’s Chair Emma Rowse said: “It is essential that those receiving support from volunteers are confident that they are part of structure either through a Cornwall-wide body like ourselves or through a recognised local community group.

“It is also important that volunteers are supported in the work that they are doing. The Toolkit is valuable in outlining the key issues to be considered and provides very useful information that can be followed up in more detail if necessary.”

Anyone with questions on the Community Toolkit and cannot find the information online can email covid19@cornwall.gov.uk or call 0300 1231118.