A support service in Lancaster to relaunch as Bay Volunteers

Date posted: 21st March 2022

A support service that helped thousands of people across the Lancaster District and surrounding areas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is relaunching as Bay Volunteers.

A face-to-face and online event will take place on Saturday 26 March 2022 to celebrate the relaunch. People can attend a face-to-face relaunch event at Hope Church, Queen Street, Lancaster, LA1 1RX, between 12pm and 3pm. You can book your in-person place here. An online session will be also held between 1pm and 2pm and people can access the session on Facebook and Youtube. People will be able to hear from different partners on how they got involved and will have the chance to tell Bay Volunteers how they can better support people in the Lancaster District. Refreshments will be provided at the beginning and end of the face-to-face event.

Bay Volunteers offers support seven days a week and is led by Matt Parker, Manager for Bay Volunteers, and a group of local volunteers. It is supported by Hope Church Lancaster, Lancaster City Council, Lancaster District Community Hub, Lancaster District CVS, Lancaster and Bay Integrated Care Communities, Lancaster University Student Union and works in partnership with others too. 

Currently, through its Support Line, Bay Volunteers offer the following types of support for those who need it:

  • a listening call/walk (befriending) for people who may be suffering from loneliness
  • doing and delivering grocery shopping
  • collecting and delivering prescriptions
  • collecting and/or delivering post and parcels, including food parcels.

Bay Volunteers is looking into other ways that they can support people in the community which may include but is not limited to, transport to medical vaccinations/appointments, digital buddies for those who need help using the NHS website and/or apps, and dog walking.

Matt Parker, Manager for Bay Volunteers, said: “It’s really important to have a service like Bay Volunteers to support those people in the communities of the Lancaster District who require support but may not fit the criteriaMatt Parker, Bay Volunteers Manager.png for support from other organisations in the area. 

“We are looking for more volunteers to come forward and help us to run the service. Especially in the more rural and outlying areas of Lancaster. It’s really valuable for the service user to have someone who is based in that particular community with who they can build up a rapport – it also reduces travel time and costs for our volunteers.”

Jamie Haxby, Assistant Pastor at Hope Church.pngDuring the height of the pandemic, Jamie Haxby, Assistant Pastor at Hope Church Lancaster, along with a few others from the church, came up with the idea of the Lancaster District Support Line to operate during COVID-19 – a listening service for local people who were struggling with isolation. The team at Hope Church, Lancaster City Council, Lancaster District Community Hub, Lancaster District CVS and Lancaster and Bay Integrated Care Communities soon identified that there was a need in the community for additional support such as doing and delivering grocery shopping, picking up and delivering prescriptions and picking up/delivering post or parcels too. Transport to and from vaccinations during the height of the vaccination programme was included later.

Matt said: “The volunteers who set up and ran the Support Line with Jamie Haxby as well as those who continue to help it run now are a huge credit to the Lancaster District and deserve high praise for all that they have done and continue to do to make sure that those who need it get the support of Bay Volunteers. 

“We could not do what we do without them; they are invaluable to us.”

Matt added: “We have identified that there is a permanent need for the service and going forward we want to continue to develop the project as more than just a COVID-19 support line, which is why we have relaunched as Bay Volunteers.

“At the moment we currently offer support for urgent requests but we really want to be able to support the communities of the Lancaster District in others ways. For example, one-off bigger projects to support and benefit people and communities as well as regular non-urgent requests in the community.”

A volunteer and member of the Bay Volunteers core team, said: “I’ve been involved as a volunteer for the last 18 months. As I’m retired, I have lots of time so I’ve been able to take people to their vaccinations, undertake regular weekly shopping trips, pick up and drop off regular prescriptions, carry out weekly shopping pick-ups from Eggcup food club, top-up electricity cards and have regular weekly catch-ups with the lovely people I do regular shopping for. As well as being able to serve our local community, I’ve made some lovely friendships and discovered little streets and shops I’d never heard of before. What a great start to retirement! I highly recommend it!”

A member of the public who is a Bay Volunteers service user, said: “My volunteer has been absolutely amazing – a lifeline for me. My volunteer continues to go above and beyond for me to make sure that everything is done right. My volunteer was the only face that I saw for a long time and it meant so much to me to have my shopping done each week when I couldn’t and to have it delivered by such a friendly and joyful person too.”

The Bay Volunteers Core Team who support Matt Parker are:

Tim Morris – Software Administrator (pictured below)      

Tim Morris, Software Administrator for Bay Volunteers.png






Tim Ellis – Software Triage (pictured below)

         Tim Ellis, Software Triage for Bay Volunteers.png





Tina Bateman – Requests Support (pictured below)   

Tina Bateman Requests Support.png






Abi Andrews – Communications (pictured below)

Abi Andrews, Communications for Bay Volunteers.png






Councillor Caroline Jackson, Leader of Lancaster City Council and Cabinet member for community engagement, said: “During the pandemic, the service that is now re-launching as Bay Volunteers, fulfilled an essential role supporting clinically vulnerable and isolated people.

“Although fewer people need to isolate now due to the pandemic, there is still a need for a service that links people with life essentials such as food and which is always there to support those who need it the most in whatever way it can.

“We wish the volunteers and staff at Bay Volunteers well as they continue to work in partnership with key services to make a significant difference to people’s lives in Lancaster district.”

Mark Waddington, Connecting Communities Development Officer for Lancaster District CVS, said: “This is such a wonderful way for people to help out in a way that is completely flexible to them. Not everyone can commit to the same time each and every week, but they still have a lot to give. Hope Church developed a brilliant system that connects volunteers to individuals in need so that people help where they can but can be assured that if they can’t, someone else will.”

You can find out more about Bay Volunteers at Hope Church’s website here, on the Bay Volunteers Youtube channel here, or on any of the social media accounts of Bay Volunteers: Facebook here. Instagram here. Twitter here. TikTok here. If you are interested in volunteering for Bay Volunteers, you can contact Matt Parker at bayvolunteersmanager@hopelancaster.co.uk or register to volunteer here. All volunteers will be reference and DBS checked. 

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