THE third sector is providing lifeline local support during the coronavirus crisis - with umbrella organisation CVS Inverclyde leading the way by playing a pivotal role.

As the umbrella body for the local third sector, it supports charities, voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises.

More than 500 of them operate across the district and CVSI works with them to build services and develop more resilient and healthier communities better placed to flourish in the future.

In recent weeks, CVS Inverclyde has been dedicating significant resources to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is utilising its existing Volunteer Inverclyde programme and directory of activities and services, and has introduced an advice service - with an expert team offering specialist support on everything from funding, to HR and staffing.

It has also been working in partnership with Inverclyde Council to protect people through a new Shielding Service being operated by its community link workers.

They have formed a shielding team who ensure that vulnerable individuals can stay at home and keep safe during the outbreak.

Volunteer Inverclyde has signed up a small army of people to pitch in, in a bid to alleviate the pressure being put on the NHS, carers and voluntary organisations.

Charlene Elliott, chief executive of CVSI, said: “Our team, led by volunteer development officer Catriona MacLeod, have been busy co-ordinating volunteering efforts alongside Inverclyde Council, Inverclyde Health & Social Care Partnership and Inverclyde Royal Hospital, plus partner organisations such as Compassionate Inverclyde, Belville Community Garden, Your Voice and many others, as well as working closely with local COVID-19 community groups.

“They are reaching out to people who are able to help those in need and asking them to pledge their support at, where a COVID-19 page has been added to capture their details.

“Many people have approached us eager to volunteer, which is such a positive reflection on our caring community.

"Their resolve will go a long way to ensuring our communities emerge from this experience far stronger and far better connected."

The Shielding Service is supporting the most vulnerable by collecting prescriptions, shopping or food parcels and running telephone befriending and wellbeing checks.

This effort is being co-ordinated by CVS Inverclyde’s team of shielders, Compassionate Inverclyde and local COVID-19 community groups, supported by a network of volunteers.

One man who has his prescriptions picked up for him by the team says he couldn't get by without the service.

He told the Tele: “I have diabetes and COPD and if it weren’t for CVS Inverclyde picking this up, I would be really struggling.

"I don’t have anyone else to do this for me.”

Council leader Stephen McCabe, pictured picking up his volunteer pack with colleagues, is one of the people who has signed up to provide help.

He said: "While I have been involved both locally and nationally as a senior councillor in the response to the current crisis, I wanted to do something more practical to help by volunteering for the prescription collection service.

"With so many people unable to leave their homes to get basic necessities, this and the other services supported by local volunteers are a real lifeline for many vulnerable people in our community."

The Volunteer Inverclyde team are also providing NHS support, with people based in Inverclyde Royal Hospital helping in a variety of ways, such as filing, taking telephone calls, help with meals and drinks, replenishing ward supplies and running errands.

People can pledge support by contacting the Volunteer Inverclyde team on 01475 711733.