A Bideford woman has told how volunteering has helped her while the coronavirus pandemic forced her to put her own business on hold.

As a professional organiser, Natalie Hare works closely with people with mental health problems and hoarding behaviours who often need long-term encouragement and support to improve their living situations.

With so much of her work involving going into other people’s homes, her business, Hare to Organise, has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite not being able to receive grants or furlough payments, Natalie had no hesitation in volunteering to help others when the pandemic struck.

She said: “I had to stop work in March when lockdown hit because I go to people’s homes and these are people who are often quite vulnerable.

Natalie Hare.Natalie Hare.

“I was working six days a week full time. So I went from that to nothing, so when I saw that there was the need for volunteers I really wanted to help.

“I work on my own and thank goodness because I was just about to employ my daughter before lockdown and we would have been in a bit of a predicament if that had happened.

“It has been really surreal and the volunteering kept me going otherwise I think I could have fallen into a bit of a dark place.

“Volunteering means you have something to go out for every day and because people are relying on you, you’ve got to get up and get dressed because you can’t let people down. It gives you a purpose and if you can help other people it’s a good thing.”

Natalie’s volunteering has seen her delivering prescriptions to people from the Lloyds Pharmacy at Wooda Surgery in Bideford.

Around her volunteering work she is keeping a check on her business clients too.

Natalie said: “I go to the pharmacy most days Monday to Friday. I always go down at 3pm. Some of the deliveries are through the voluntary service and there are ones that had been left because the delivery driver didn’t have time, and I do those ones as well.

“Its all fairly local. I have been out to Eastleigh and Westleigh, to the end of country lanes and some places that are impossible to find. Its often an elderly man or lady on their own. They are always really grateful.”

For more information about volunteering in Torridge, visit the TTVS website.