CHARITY Community Action Network has commended the hard work of volunteers during the pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the voluntary sector in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole has seen thousands of volunteers stepping up.

More than 3,300 volunteers supported Together We Can, the local community response to the pandemic, and nearly 2,000 volunteers were involved in the vaccination programme at the BIC and other venues.

Karen Loftus, chief executive of CAN, said: ‘We have been blown away by the response of local people.

“Across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, thousands of people have taken on new volunteering roles to help those most in need, and thousands more have adapted their existing volunteering roles to continue providing essential support. Whether delivering food parcels, befriending those who are lonely, supporting people to stay connected online, helping young people with their wellbeing and mental health, or hosting virtual events and activities, local volunteers have quite simply been amazing."

Caring Canines is a Bournemouth-based charity committed to promoting canine awareness and its value through dog-assisted therapy.

Bournemouth Echo: Caring Canines is a Bournemouth-based charity committed to promoting canine awareness and its value through dog-assisted therapy

The charity was badly affected by the Covid-19 restrictions, but continued to offer support to its members in other ways.

Volunteers took calls on the Caring Canines’ telephone contact line up to three times a day for every day of the week.

Although their dog-assisted therapy visits were interrupted, permanent contact was maintained through emails, videos, cards, letters, photos and garden visits when the restrictions were lifted.

Louise is a Caring Canines volunteer who made garden visits when restrictions allowed during the pandemic.

She said: “We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Caring Canines for an amazing journey – for their kindness and dedication to this unique and valuable contribution to the community.

“We have enjoyed visiting the Memory Café in Ferndown and latterly the nursing home - to see the joy on the residents’ faces is heart-warming.”

During the lockdown, Bournemouth Samaritans kept its branch safely open with appropriate measures in place for 170 volunteers to do what they do best – taking calls from people who are struggling emotionally.

Bournemouth Echo: The Samaritans of Bournemouth, who are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year, report that, in 2020, they answered over 13,930 telephone calls, sent over 700 texts, and responded to more than 9,000 emails

The branch, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, reports that, in 2020, it answered more than 13,930 telephone calls, sent more than 700 texts, and responded to more than 9,000 emails.

The Wave Project is national charity that aims to improve the lives of young people aged eight to 18 through evidence-based surf therapy.

The pandemic has had a major impact on young people’s mental health and wellbeing, so services like the Wave Project’s Surf Therapy and Surf Club are in high demand.

Bournemouth Echo: The Wave Project is an award-winning UK wide charity that aims to improve the lives of young people aged 8-18 through evidence-based surf therapy

This has caused The Wave Project and its volunteers to step up and offer additional support beyond their seasonal six-week Surf Therapy courses and weekly Surf Clubs. Surf sessions were also set up during February and March and were specifically designed in response to the pandemic and its effects on young people’s wellbeing.

A volunteer for the Wave Project said: “This community is a big part of why I volunteer. I love seeing young people make new friends during Wave’s sessions."