Volunteer groups will be ‘key’ to post-lockdown recovery, says former Ottery town councillor
- Credit: Archant
Unpaid workers will play a vital role in getting Ottery’s economy moving again as businesses reopen after lockdown, according to former town councillor Josefina Gori.
Mrs Gori has expressed gratitude to the army of volunteers who provide services and support groups in the town, saying Ottery ‘runs’ thanks to their work.
During the Covid-19 crisis, the help provided by the newly-formed network of community volunteers has been in the spotlight.
But Mrs Gori has also praised the ‘incredible’ work that has been done for many years by more than 20 charities and other organisations in the town and said some of those volunteers will have a ‘key role’ as Ottery emerges from lockdown.
She said: “For example, the volunteers at the Information Office can come up with ideas that will attract people to the town, such as a tour of the Cultural Triangle ending with a cup of tea at a local tea-room.
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“The Friends of Ottery Library volunteers could help the library to organise children’s events during the school holidays which will attract families to town.
“Those volunteering for Tar Barrels, the Carnival Committee and Pixie Day know a lot about how to entertain the crowds and gather money for charities.
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“By working together we could achieve a lot without the need of extra funds.
“Whatever can be done to encourage local tourism, especially now that the chances of going abroad are in doubt, will ultimately help the businesses in town, but we have to develop ways to do it.”
She said some of the schemes set up in response to lockdown will also help the town recover.
“What the community volunteers did during the lockdown doesn’t need to stop, and you have the case of the Help scheme which is a volunteer organisation providing support to those affected emotionally by the lockdown.
“The ability to diversify that the restaurants, pubs and some shops showed during the lockdown does not need to stop, it can become something different to be offered.”
Mrs Gori was a town councillor between 2014 and 2018 and worked with volunteer groups on several initiatives.
She co-ordinated the Information Office team led by Phyllis Baxter, and worked with volunteers from the carnival committee, Rotary Club and local businesses to organise the events that brought the Tour of Britain to Ottery twice.
The same team helped her to organise the 2018 late-night Christmas shopping after the death of Phyllis Baxter, who had chaired the event committee.
Volunteers were also key to her work as chair of the Ottery Regeneration working group.