As temperatures continue to tumble, the call has gone out for Snow Angels to help support the elderly and vulnerable this winter.
The “angels” are needed to help clear and grit the footpaths in their local communities in the event of heavy snowfalls, delivering emergency food parcels to residents who can’t get out of their homes in extreme weather
Set up in 2011, the Snow Angels is a joint initiative involving staff from County Durham based housing association, Cestria Community Housing, Durham Constabulary and other partner agencies.
Cestria Customer Service manager, Lisa Coverdale, said: “We’ve already had the coldest night in the UK for six years when temperatures plummeted in November; even the bookies are slashing the odds of a white Christmas in the North-East, so we need to be prepared to help our communities.
“Many of our tenants are elderly and vulnerable and it’s vital we make sure they stay safe and well this winter.
“We also know that our tenants, together with members of the local community, are very community spirited and willing to help their neighbours, so we’re urging people to sign up with the Snow Angels.”
Becoming a Snow Angel is easy – all volunteers need is warm clothing and a shovel. In the event of heavy snowfall they will be contacted and asked to help clear paths in their area.
They may also be asked to deliver groceries to vulnerable households, with local cash and carry wholesaler, Batley’s, pledging its support for the project for the sixth year running, by offering to provide essential food items for distribution in the Chester-le-Street and Pelton areas in the event of an emergency.
Cestria will also be supplying extra salt bins at key locations across Chester-le-Street, as well as marking all bins with Snow Angel stickers, in a bid to attract even more volunteers.
Lisa added: “During a cold snap last winter one elderly woman was stranded in her home because her daughter, who was her primary carer and who visited her every day from York, couldn’t make the journey.
“When the Snow Angels got in touch she had none of the essential, everyday items in her home – the cupboards were bare and she had no-one to ask for help.
“The police dropped off emergency supplies and checked up on her and we rang her daughter to reassure her that her mum was okay – that’s just one example of how this scheme can really make a difference, just by people being concerned about their neighbours.”
Durham Constabulary’s Adrian Richards, of the Chester-le-Street Neighbourhood Policing Team, also urged local residents to volunteer with the Snow Angels and support their community through the winter months.
He said: “We are hoping for a mild winter, but everything is now in place to offer any vulnerable residents in Chester-le-Street and the surrounding villages help if needed to clear driveways and, during prolonged extreme weather, to ensure essential food items can be delivered to their homes.”
The Snow Angels initiative will run throughout December until March 2017. Anyone wishing to volunteer should contact the Chester-le-Street Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or ChesterleStreet@durham.pnn.police.uk