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Staff at Northern Gas Networks (NGN) are helping to meet the needs of people who are most vulnerable to coronavirus by providing care packages of essential items free to customers’ homes, from West Yorkshire all the way to Northumberland.

For many people self-isolating at home who can’t make it to the shops, having access to enough food and other essential items can be a source of worry.

With colleagues living and working in communities right across the North of England, NGN is well placed to step in and deliver care packages directly to people’s doorsteps.

Our depot teams have been busy putting together the care packages, which include in-demand items such as pasta, tea and toilet rolls, as well as a puzzle book to help customers keep their minds active while they stay indoors. The packages also include an information card which signposts customers to further support and Northern Gas Networks’ own Customer Care Team.

During every gas emergency visit, our emergency response engineers are asking customers who are self-isolating or are shielding if they would benefit from a care package.

If the customer says yes, then our engineers let their local depot know, and a package is put together. It’s then delivered by one of our Customer Care Officers or a depot admin colleague. All the packages are left safely on doorsteps and social distancing is always practiced.

NGN is also linking up with local charities, businesses and voluntary organisations to find out who is in most urgent need and could benefit from a care package.

For instance, in Leeds, NGN Customer Care Officers Katherine Lee and Aira Bree Watson have been delivering care packages to those most in need. One customer said: “I was put forward to receive a care package as me and my children are on total lockdown for my son’s health. Wow; when it came I couldn’t believe the amount and the great selection of items; even a crossword book. Thank you so much; it was a big help and the children are very happy too.”

Katherine and Aria are also working with Age UK Leeds to provide care packages to their vulnerable clients, and with the charity Wetherby In Support of the Elderly. Age UK Leeds said: “Big thanks to Aira and Katherine in Leeds who donated packages of essential items that we can give to older people in need in the city.”

In the Pennines, Customer Care Officer Amy Hurd has donated care packages to Norton House care home in Elland, which included toiletries for the staff and two tablets that residents can use to talk to and see their families: a crucial lifeline during lockdown when care home residents can feel isolated from loved ones.

Further north, Washington Riding School near Sunderland received some bags of animal feed and carrots for their horses, from Customer Care Officer Hollie Scott.

The riding school offers lessons and therapy sessions to both children and adults with a range of physical and learning disabilities. It relies on volunteers and donations to keep running, but since the lockdown the school has had to temporarily close and it has had no income. NGN’s donation of feed will help them to keep the school going, so that they can continue to provide lessons for disabled riders when they are able to reopen.

NGN’s Customer Experience Development Manager, Steve Dacre, said: “For our vulnerable customers staying home and staying safe is saving lives, but it’s still a worry if you can’t leave the house to buy the essentials you need. At NGN, we have colleagues living and working at the heart of our communities. It makes good sense for us to mobilise our workforce to be able to deliver care packages to those who need them most, and to support our local charities so that they can do more.”

NGN is now encouraging community organisations, charities and local businesses to send in requests for support: from volunteers, to access to vehicles and drivers. Anyone working for an organisation that is looking for support, or knows someone who does, can get in touch with NGN at AskNGN@northerngas.co.uk

Anyone who smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, seven days a week.