Local churches of several denominations have worked together to take the lead in establishing an Emergency Community Network for the rural area centred on Carlton, (between Selby and Goole) in the south of the Diocese of York.

Invited by North Yorkshire County Council, Curate of Carlton and Drax the Revd Becky Allright has been heavily involved in co-ordinating a number of organisations and groups to offer a single route for people to request and access support during the Coronavirus lockdown which began in March 2020 and whose end date is still not known.

"In the parish there are no other 'infrastructure' organisations that cover the entire area, so there are five [civil] parish councils, two Methodist Circuits, one Roman Catholic church, and three different GP practices, so none that cover the whole geography," explains Becky.

Set up in March by a group of friends and volunteers, the network has been running whilst everyone is in self isolation.

So far the number of people needing support has been limited, as many of the villages in this area are very well connected and support is available through extended family, and some local businesses are offering delivery services for those unable to get out.

"It’s been really heart-warming to hear how generous our neighbours have been to each other," said Becky.

"Sometimes on social media we only ever seem to talk about gripes and complain, but it’s been like an outbreak of positive messages and actions happening all around us. Last Sunday morning instead of going to church I was putting someone in touch with a family, so they could donate a box of food from Morrisons."

The Facebook group has over 250 members, 40 volunteer ‘buddies’ are registered who can pick up prescriptions, nip to the shop or in some cases walk dogs too, while around 70 people are registered to receive support. One who lives alone and is housebound said "I think this is amazing, I never thought I’d be able to ask someone local to nip to the shops for me. I’d got used to managing on my own with the support of social care, but it’s really cheered me up to know that the network exists."

Behind the scenes there's a real community partnership including members of all the churches and others, taking on tasks including collecting and distributing books, answering the phone and coordinating medication collection from the surgery. A local designer has provided a logo and set up email support, and an IT consultant has helped launch the new website. Curate Becky Allright is posting information on Facebook (@carltonvillagesnetwork) and a local lawyer is giving safeguarding advice. Sheena Grice and Suzanne Wilson from the village hall committee are pictured above with donated books which can also be added to deliveries for folk who are self isolating.

Both the Methodist Minister Peter Barnett, and Vicar Anna Burr support the network's development and link church volunteers in with the project. Local NHS staff and retired social workers are keeping an eye out for the 'buddies' too. Local Cllr Mike Jordan is one of the ‘buddies’ and is supporting families he met during the recent flooding in West Bank.

"We hope the network can continue in the future, as a way of sharing ‘good news’ amongst the community and supporting each other to manage the current crisis. The new website www.carltonvillagesnetwork.co.uk is an asset in building links between the villages," adds Becky.