TWO organisations supporting volunteers in Pembrokeshire have been recognised for their efforts by the High Sheriff of Dyfed.

The Pembrokeshire Community Support Network and Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services were awarded Certificates of Special Recognition at an online award ceremony on Monday evening. These included individual certificates for two individual team members.

The Pembrokeshire Community Support Network (PCSN) is made up of almost 100 volunteer-led community support groups (of differing sizes) who sprang into action over a year ago to help out in their communities in response to the Covid-19 situation.

By offering support such as shopping, collecting prescriptions, dog walking, a friendly voice on the end of the phone, and even online/ community activities to keep people's spirits up, these groups became a lifeline for many people who were shielding or otherwise unable to go about their normal day-to-day lives.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers came forward to support people in their local area.

When the Covid-19 lockdown first started, few of these groups envisaged that they would still be needed over a year later, but volunteers have remained committed to their communities and have gone above and beyond to help their neighbours.

Those who were coordinating the local effort (volunteers themselves) came together, with support from Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services (Pavs), to form PCSN in order to help each other with ideas and best practice around volunteering.

Through weekly on-line meetings and an active Facebook group, co-ordinators shared ideas and resources where they could and quickly became an invaluable part of the Covid response offered through the Pembrokeshire Community Hub.

Sue Leonard, Pavs chief officer, paid tribute to all PCSN members:

"The support provided to the communities of Pembrokeshire by all those involved in PCSN has been astounding," she said.

"They provided an essential service in their communities without even being asked – they saw the need and responded quickly. PCSN became the 'glue' that held communities together. Being there for those who needed them when they needed them."

The High Sheriff also awarded a Certificate of Special Recognition to Pavs in light of the work done by the whole team over the past 12 months to support voluntary and community groups, volunteers, unpaid carers and people in need of care and support.

Individual members of the team, Cherry Evans (dementia supportive communities connector) and Rhys Eynon (learning disabilities champion), also received Special Recognition Awards for the outstanding contributions they have made during the last 12 months to support people living with dementia, people with learning disabilities, their families and carers.

Pavs chair, John Gossage, said:

"Staff and trustees at Pavs are incredibly proud to have been recognised alongside the PCNS by the High Sheriff.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated change and forced us to adapt to radically different circumstances.

"Pembrokeshire is fortunate in having a thick layer of social capital, and the community has responded magnificently."

Sharron Lusher, High Sheriff of Dyfed, added: "It has been a real honour to present these awards. The dedication, compassion and energy shown by the Pavs team and networks of volunteers has been exceptional, and has helped so many people, so much, during such a difficult year. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts".