VOLUNTEERS have stepped up to help over 2,200 people during the Covid-19 crisis with advice and vital support.

Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire said the backing of their volunteers has been relied upon more than ever by scores of people desperate for support.

Since the lock down began on Monday March 23 they have helped 2,222 people, in Hambleton and Richmondshire alone they've given advice to 1,046 people, helping them claim £177,441 mostly through examination of benefit checks.

The charity has also helped get £37,006 of debt written off for clients at a time when six million people in the UK are now behind with their household bills.

They say around 45 per cent of people helped in the county had a long-term health condition or a disability. Just under 40 per cent involved people having to move onto benefits due to the pandemic, closely followed by 38 per cent of people having problems with employment, 224 people needed help moving on to Universal Credit for the first time.

Volunteers have had to work online from home because of the Covid-19 restrictions. Chief Officer Carol Shreave said: "Throughout the year our wonderful volunteers contribute their time and energy, to support and advise people, helping to keep our vital service running.

"I’m immensely proud of the huge difference our Volunteers have made to the community in Hambleton and Richmondshire, not just since the Pandemic struck, but every single day.

"We have seen our services in demand more than ever with a 209 per cent increase since the pandemic started and our Volunteers have managed to make a huge difference in their clients lives, often being their lifeline when it comes to vital financial and family support.

"We anticipate a second wave of people needing our help, with employment, housing and benefit issues. This will be a result of when the government eases emergency measures such as the suspension on evictions and the furlough financial scheme decreases for employees for example”

"I have every confidence in our fantastic Volunteers and Staff being able to cope with the predicted second surge in demand for our services and we are currently implementing measures to make sure we are ready for it.

"I cannot thank them enough for their continued dedication. We really couldn’t do it without them."

As part of Hambleton and Richmondshire volunteers week the charities helpers usually do a walk followed by a meal as a way of thanking them for their vital work, this has had to be postponed this year but volunteers have been keeping in contact online to maintain moral. And organisers are promising a get together once the lockdown restrictions are lifted fully.

If you need advice in Richmondshire call Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshires Adviceline on 0300 3309 036 or visit https://citizensadvicehrs.org.uk/