MORE than 7,000 volunteers are being thanked for the support they have given to Dorset residents.

Dorset Council is showing its appreciation for the 7,000 volunteers that have contributed their time to supporting their neighbours and communities throughout the coronavirus pandemic as it celebrates Volunteers' Week 2021, which runs until June 7 and aims to recognise the contribution volunteers make to society.

In the past 15 months, volunteers have supported residents with services such as food delivery, medication collection, dog walking and befriending while the country faced an unprecedented time.

Working closely with charities including AgeUK North, South and West Dorset, Citizens Advice, Volunteer Centre Dorset, Dorset Community Action and Dorset Community Foundation, volunteers have been matched to services to offer support.

Thousands of calls regarding mental health have been answered and regular wellbeing calls to the most vulnerable, isolated and lonely residents have been made. Support for volunteers and organisations has been available through weekly webinar sessions, and more than £170,000 in grants has been awarded to groups that have been helping vulnerable people impacted by the pandemic.

Councillor Val Pothecary, chairman of Dorset Council, has been 'astonished' at the generosity of people who turned out to support their local community.

She said: "This Volunteers Week, I want to take this opportunity to send a personal message of appreciation. It’s truly astonishing how many people have come forward to volunteer their support for neighbours and local communities during the Covid crisis.

"Now, as things start to get closer to something that resembles normality and local groups, clubs and organisations start to get going again, it’s important that we recognize everyone who gives up their time to help and support others year in year out.

"So, I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who volunteer in Dorset. Whether you’re someone who helps to support council services or someone who volunteers with many groups and organisations that make Dorset such a very special place to be. Thank you."

For more information about volunteering opportunities in Dorset, visit the Dorset Council website.