A COMMUNITY group is continuing to make a huge difference to the people it serves with the latest project aimed at putting a smile on the faces of patients with coronavirus.

Leave A Light On was formed at the start of the first lockdown on March 23 last year with the aim of signposting people to support they needed.

"With the pandemic the support networks had to close due to staff issues," explained group founder Richard Francis.

"Our contact number saw a huge number who needed help.

"We went from a signposting network to very much hands-on, supporting the community on different projects.

"One of the first things we did was provide accommodation for the NHS.

"A lot of people needed to come over for a period of time if they didn't feel safe staying with families."

The group also turned its hand to distributing food parcels and it still offers "emergency one-off" food support for people who need it.

They also helped to provide much-needed PPE and conducted home repairs on equipment such as washing machines.

A befriending service was also offered for the elderly and mental health support to those struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

The latest drive from the group has been to support patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 by providing toiletries to those that need them.

Richard said the group had realised that the family members of patients who are taken to hospital are forced to self-isolate, leaving many without the basic things they need such as toothpaste and shower gel.

They've since provided supplies worth between £500 and £700.

LALO have also been handing out "comfort parcels" to key workers, giving them items such as hot chocolate, crumpets and magazines.

Richard praised the work of volunteers.

"It has been overwhelming," he said.

"The biggest part is the community support, that has never dropped."

The work of the volunteers has been instrumental, Richard says.

"I try to take on as much as I can but I have needed that backbone of support and the support of volunteers."

Richard, 34, is currently studying to be a paramedic, meaning that his studies combined with his volunteer work have led to regular 15 and 16 hour days since the start of the pandemic.

Anyone who wants to help out with either donations or volunteering is asked to contact lalorecovery2020@gmail.com

Alternatively visit https://www.leavealighton.org.uk