Cromer support group volunteer wins Community Hero award
- Credit: Archant
A town clerk who has been instrumental in running a support group during the coronavirus pandemic has been named Community Hero in the North Norfolk News awards.
Julie Chance, 64, lives at Trimingham and is a volunteer with Cromer Cares, an organisation set up in March 2020 by town and district councillor Tim Adams to help during the crisis.
She said she was "over the moon" to win the award and that being part of the group has opened her eyes.
"I've been clerk for Cromer Town Council for 17 years but when I took this on I felt like I had been living in a bubble," she said.
"I didn't know there were so many vulnerable people in Cromer, people who needed help. I didn't realise, in my bubble, that people were struggling."
At one point during the height of the outbreak, the group was helping 3,000 people with prescription and food deliveries and Ms Chance was working up to 17 hours a day seven days a week.
When things started to calm down, she carried on working with Mr Adams and also returned to her role as town clerk.
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She said: "I've loved doing it. One thing that has come out of this, I retire from Cromer Town Council in two years and I knew I wanted to volunteer for something, now I know what I'll do."
People first learned of Cromer Cares at the beginning of the pandemic when leaflets were dropped through every letterbox in the town.
Cromer Town Council gave the group £10,000, then they secured a £15,000 grant from Norfolk Community Foundation and £2,000 from Tesco, as well as donations from the public.
The group was set up with the intention of closing once the pandemic ended, but almost two years later it is still going strong, has received funding from Norfolk County Council and has become an official charity getting referrals from social services and Cromer Hospital, among other agencies.
In 2021, the charity has remained busy, helping to rehouse people in abusive relationships, among other work, and is currently preparing to deliver Christmas hampers.
Ms Chance said: "I never want to go back into my bubble. I never want to not help these people. I want to continue to help as much as I can."