VOLUNTEERS have been at the heart of a Workington community throughout lockdown.

And it’s all thanks to a group of hard working people that Northside Community Centre has been able to stay open.

They have ensured the shop has been able to keep running, with safety measures in place, and that the Fare Share food scheme could continue.

And while some helpers have come and gone, there is one who has been there from the start.

Nicole Tyer is our person of the week. She has worked tirelessly to help others.

The 26-year-old has worked at the centre for the past seven years. She started at 19 as work experience, then did a two-year apprenticeship, and she was later employed as business administrator.

However, just before lockdown, Nicole was made redundant. But her community spirit was well and truly engrained and so she has been working on a voluntary basis ever since. “I want to help in whatever way I can,” she said.

She is well aware of what a lifeline the shop, which sells a range of items, including papers, milk, tinned and frozen items, is.

“It was moved into a bigger hall so we could do social distancing,” said Nicole.

“People prefer coming here, they’re not having to stand in big queues in the supermarket and it’s less distance to travel

“A lot of people are feeling isolated and I think they like the chat too.”

Celia Tibble, a county councillor whose ward includes Northside, is also on the centre’s committee

“All the way through the emergency, even before it was declared, the centre had leaflets out showing how they could help,” she said. “Nicole is our IT wizard, she does all the posters and leaflets. By volunteering almost every day she has kept the shop open. She also keeps control of stock and does accounts.”

Celia is well aware of what a vital service the shop is. She said: “During lockdown it was used by a lot of the elderly people on the estate and also those with illnesses and disabilities. There’s no bus service on the estate so unless people can afford a taxi or are able to walk to town and the shops they’re trapped. They also do deliveries.

“We are so grateful to the volunteers. They’ve done such a lot throughout the pandemic.”