It’s been a pleasure over the last couple of months to discover more about how communities have rallied to help those most in need.

From the Cumbrian coast to the Pennine hills and from the border to the South Lakes it feels there isn’t a town, village or hamlet that can’t look with pride at what’s been achieved.

Protecting the elderly, ill or isolating has become second nature. Friends, neighbours and strangers have taken on the role of shoppers, helping hands and listening ears for those who found themselves in need of some support.

A positive spotlight

Across the county there have been literally scores of groups established or rebooted to meet the demands posed by coronavirus and the lockdown.

Shining a spotlight on some of those groups has been heartening and humbling in equal measure.

They haven’t sought to be heralded, they haven’t looked for ‘positive PR’. But it is important that the stories of what they do to help those around them are told. In the darkest days of lockdown, as the doom and gloom of infection rates was all around, we needed to hear about the good stuff going on.

And there was so much of it to talk about.

Furloughed workers suddenly with time on their hands used it to organise shopping runs for those unable to get out and about as normal.

New ways to help

After the first frantic weeks, these groups started looking for additional ways to help. Not content with providing practical necessities like hot food and medication, they began to think about well-being and keeping contact with those whose regular lifelines had been temporarily severed.

So we had virtual challenges, Zoom quizzes and music nights and phone trees to make sure those living alone were not forgotten.

In some communities those who normally step up in times of need discovered they were among the group that needed to take a step back for a while – and new volunteers filled the breach.

In myriad forms the community response has helped define the lockdown period. For all the pain and fear of recent times, many will emerge from it stronger and with tighter bonds.

Cumbria is not alone in demonstrating the depth of its generosity of spirit, but the county certainly hasn’t been found lacking.