MORE than 1,000 Dorset residents have signed up to volunteer in a huge community response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Dorset Council has confirmed that 1,005 volunteers have registered their availability with Volunteer Centre Dorset, and also 105 organisations have registered specifically for the community response to the pandemic.

Public Health Dorset has been working with the centre and community pharmacies to put in place a system of matching willing volunteers with outlets which need to deliver medications to people self-isolating.

The system went live across the Dorset and BCP council areas on March 25, and volunteers have already started to be placed with local pharmacies.

Councillor Laura Miller, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for health said: “ The response within the community has been outstanding.

"I would like to encourage those who are well and willing, to register with Volunteer Centre Dorset to further support the efforts in their local community.

“There are a number of resources available on our community response webpage, which includes information on safeguarding, how to access support for yourself or for loved ones, contact information for queries on foodbanks as well as information on access to funding available for community groups.”

Under the system, if there is a need for pharmacies to adjust the number of volunteers they have in their team, then they are able to request further volunteers over time.

There is expected to be a flurry of activity over the coming days as pharmacies make their requests and volunteers are matched.

Further to this, Dorset Council is issuing good-practice guidance, both for the volunteers who are delivering medication, and for the pharmacies working with those volunteers.

Services funded by Dorset Council that support people with issues with alcohol or other drugs have been trying to alter prescriptions and get people their medication directly so they can practise social distancing, and do not have to go to the pharmacy so often.

Dorset Council staff and vehicles have been redeployed to support this effort, meaning that nurses and other treatment staff can concentrate on directly supporting the most in need.

One nurse described the drivers as a "Godsend", saying the service "couldn’t do this without them".

In total, 71 grant funds have been made available to support local community groups, and the Dorset Community Foundation has launched its own fund for those who would like to make a donation or want to apply for funding.

Dorset Community Foundation will also be administering the National Emergencies Trust coronavirus pandemic funding stream for the county, alongside Dorset Council.