In this blog the Leader talks about how our amazing volunteers have stepped up to help in challenging times.

As we approach the end of week 10 of lockdown, the restrictions are being lifted more and more. We now have Government legislation defining what we can't do rather than can do over the next weeks and months.

Personally, I remain concerned about the infection rate which we are told nationally, is close to 1, and with people having had a tough 10 weeks of life being turned on its head and not being able to see friends and family, less attention is being paid to social distancing guidelines throughout the country.

So as schools welcome back more pupils and businesses prepare to reopen, whilst the council is doing everything it can to support the vital rebuilding of people's lives and livelihoods, I want to continue to emphasise that we're not out of the woods and we really don't want a second wave of Covid-19. That would be catastrophic and we must do everything to safeguard our own health and well-being and that of everyone around us.

As I've said before, there's no doubt we've got some challenges ahead as a city, but we will come through it because of the resilience and community spirit of our people.

This has never been more in evidence than during these difficult past few months and so it's very timely that this week is National Volunteers Week, giving us the opportunity to applaud the incredible efforts of some very special people.

When we entered lockdown in March we were all concerned about how to look after our most vulnerable - those in the shielding groups and the elderly - and how we would ensure they had access to food and essential supplies and weren't left isolating all alone for many weeks and possibly months.  

So we asked the people of Sunderland who might be able to help, and more than a thousand signed straight up.

I am so grateful to each and every one for helping ensure that shopping and pharmacy supplies have been delivered, dogs have been walked and regular checks and friendly calls have been made to make sure those isolating have contact with the outside world and they're not on their own.

Firm friendships have been forged between people who had never met before the emergency, and I'm sure this sense of  'team Sunderland' will continue long into the future in all sorts of ways and through a range of rewarding volunteering opportunities and roles.

Without doubt, challenges are going to continue to come our way, and we are extremely fortunate to have such kind, caring and compassionate people to call on, who truly personify the city of Sunderland.

I know that those more vulnerable members of our community who've been helped and befriended by a volunteer over the past three months, are incredibly grateful and to that I want to add my own enormous thanks to all our volunteers across the city. 

Many will still be hidden whilst quietly making a big difference to someone's life, and as a society I am delighted we get this opportunity in National Volunteers Week to show our heartfelt appreciation.

Please everyone, stay safe, continue to take very good care of your own health, your loved ones and everyone around you - in coming out of lockdown let's prevent a second wave of Covid-19 and all play our part in getting back towards normality.

With every good wish.

Cllr Graeme Miller
Leader of the Council


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