THERE is to be a lasting legacy of the community spirit that has flourished in town and villages across the county during the coronavirus pandemic, as volunteers pledge to continue helping those in need after the crisis has passed.

The thousands of people who rallied to form neighbourly support networks have been hailed ‘heroes’ by Shropshire Rural Communities Charity (RCC), which has now secured lottery funding to help them carry on.

The charity has released the results of a survey carried out over the summer, in which 67 of the estimated 120 groups across Shropshire took part, with 91 per cent saying they had no plans to disband.

While five groups said they did intend on winding down their activities, a report on the survey by RCC chief executive Julia Baron says: “It appears general neighbourliness will replace some of these more formal groups.”

Extracts from the survey responses are included in the report, with one saying: “We’re already becoming aware that the demand for our services has fallen off only because the informal neighbourly relationships have blossomed.”

Of the 67 respondents, 26 said they were new groups which had formed directly in response to the pandemic, while the remaining 41 were pre-existing organisations which had either adapted or extended their services, including food banks, charities and Good Neighbours groups.

The report says: “The real heroes of these schemes are the volunteers who stood in line to collect prescriptions and medicines, did grocery shopping and provided a listening ear or a friendly face across the garden gate.”

Ms Baron’s report goes on to describe areas the groups have identified that they may need help in going forward.

Her report says: “Most respondents stated that their groups had been able to meet all requests made to them – either themselves or by referral.”

Some shortcomings included lack of IT skills.