Angus’ greatest peace-time force has been hailed as “extraordinary” as the area’s volunteer army prepares to stand down from the Covid-19 frontline.
A thousand strong battalion of helpers signed up to fill lifeline roles to help the county’s elderly and vulnerable.
Emergency support for thousands of the area’s most at-risk residents is now to be scaled back after Scottish Government advice that those who have been shielding will no longer have to do so after the end of this week.
The change has led Voluntary Action Angus to announce it will be reducing its services and the supply of emergency grocery boxes from August 1.
Angus Council said staff who have been involved in the Humanitarian Assistance Angus Response Team (HAART), alongside VAA and other third sector organisations, will also return to their regular posts.
At the height of the pandemic, more than 4,500 people across Angus were told to shield and the HAART team made contact with all of them to ensure they were accessing vital support – 98% of the total were contacted personally by phone.
Angus Council leader David Fairweather said: “This has been the most extraordinary achievement and it shows what can be done when the community and the council come together with a clear focus.
“I would like to thank everyone who worked on and with the HAART for delivering this essential support to people across Angus.”
A report is being prepared for a full meeting of Angus Council on August 12 detailing the full extent of the support effort.
Angus Provost Ronnie Proctor, who was one of those shielding, said: “I have been hugely impressed with the army of volunteers who have come forward.
“Although I am fortunate that my family have managed to do our shopping and collect our medicines, it is most gratifying to know that volunteers have been there to give help when needed.
“As a director of VAA I am fully in the picture of what has been done and I thank and congratulate all those who have been involved in what has been the biggest combined effort of our communities in peace time.”
VAA said it had been “completely humbled” by the response of local communities.
“We want people to know that although our immediate support for communities by way of prescription deliveries, shopping services etc. is ending, we are not moving out of the community,” said a spokesperson.
“Our community response plan was always a short-term plan to support people most in need.”