VOLUNTEERS are set to be paired with those in need during the coronavirus outbreak to ensure the “good will of the public is harnessed in the best way”.

Southend Council, alongside its partners, has launched the Southend Coronavirus Action Facebook page.

Anyone who is willing to lend a helping hand in coming weeks is being directed to the Facebook page to register their interest in helping others.

Volunteers are needed for a range of tasks, including shopping for people in the area who are unable to get to the shops themselves.

The group is also looking for businesses in the borough, who may be able to offer help, to volunteer their services via a separate form, again linked from the Facebook Page.

The council has organised the project to “ensure that the goodwill of the public is harnessed in the best way, and to help ensure voluntary work is carried out in a safe and co-ordinated way.”

Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “Although this is a very strange and difficult time for all of us, it is clear that many people in our borough want to do something to help others. It is heartening to see so many people already liking and sharing this Facebook page, and signing up through the online forms, to offer their services.

“I would ask anyone who would like to help out, to do so through this Facebook page, so we can co-ordinate a fast and effective response, and get food and other necessary items to those who need it as quickly and safely as possible, and whilst sticking to social distancing measures.

“I would also encourage people to make a plan with their family and friends if they can.

“Thank you to everyone who offers to help. We all value your support, and it makes me so proud to be working here in Southend when I see such kindness throughout our borough.”

The partnership, led by the council, SAVS and SECH, includes a range of voluntary organisations and charities.

The partnership has been working around the clock to plan and set up a way of making the most of offers of help from the public.

Visit www.facebook.com/SouthendCoronavirusAction