A number of warm tributes were made to Ilkley and District Good Neighbours staff and volunteers at the charity’s Annual General Meeting.
Chair Penny Coulthard spoke of the challenges and difficulties it had managed to overcome over the last year enabling it to continue its work in the community.
“This has by any measure been the most extraordinary time for all of us, but I think our charity, with all it has done to assist local residents, has emerged stronger and more closely embedded in the local community” said Penny at the AGM, which was attended by leading figures including Robbie Moore MP and Honorary Chairman Brian Mann.
“What was most rewarding was seeing how despite the pressures Ilkley pulled together, and our hard-working staff, volunteers and trustees managed to quickly adapt the nature of the services we offered from face to face to helping at a distance as demand for our assistance increased, especially from those shielding.
“As just one example our Moving On social group which met regularly each week clearly had to close, so we switched to supporting members through regular phone calls which worked well. Similarly, our Befriending service moved to being phone-based, and had increased requests as more and more entered social isolation” said Penny.
One of the charity’s most popular and much-used services – ShopAssist – changed from accompanied shopping to a “shop and drop” where a volunteer called the client for their shopping list, went to the supermarket, and then dropped off the shopping, which involved extra time using a new invoicing procedure. Over the past year they have completed over 1,200 individual shopping trips.
The charity also played a key role in the Ilkley Coronavirus Response group, set up by community leaders to share resources, identify issues, and provide support during this period. It was part of the Ilkley Corona Response line which helped those seeking help or information and also brought in volunteers – over 400 people in the Ilkley are came forward to volunteer their services.
“I would like to pay tribute to our 80 plus volunteers who help with shopping, befriending, odd jobs, social groups and the myriad of admin jobs that need to be addressed” added Penny. “ And of course our staff, who have been simply amazing during the last year, having had to change the way they operate, whilst balancing the challenges of home working, home schooling and other personal challenges. “
Other tributes to the charity came from leading figures in the community:
MP Robbie Moore said: “It was such an inspiring example to see how quickly the community of Ilkley came together during the pandemic, and how Ilkley Good Neighbours was part of that effort.”
Ilkley Mayor Mark Stidworthy had equal praise: “I would like to put on record my admiration for the dedication, hard work and professionalism of Ilkley and District Good Neighbours throughout the pandemic.”
Honorary Chairman Brian Mann added that he wanted to thank the trustees and staff for their efforts and managing the charity so well throughout a difficult year.
The AGM also featured the presentation of a gift to Trustee Yvonne Kierman, who was retiring after many years of service.
“Funding is always a challenge,” said Penny, “and we would like to express our gratitude to the organisations and funds which enabled it to continue its work, which included Bradford Council, The Co-op Community Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund, Bradford Resilience Fund, Tesco Community Grants, Rotary Club of Ilkley, Ilkley Round Table, WW Spooner Charitable Trust, and an increased and welcome number of individual donations.”