Cumbria is one of the kindest counties and has one of the highest levels of volunteering in the UK, says Cumbria Community Foundation’s Andy Beeforth.

He said: “At a time of increasing competition for skilled workers and the need to grow our businesses, the question potentially mobile professionals and workers might have is ‘Why choose Cumbria?’ I’ll give two answers: kindness and community.

"I recently read about the life experiences of people helped by the Community Foundation’s Welcome Fund. I read about families who have made their homes in Cumbria after fleeing war in Syria and Ukraine.

"One couple, Youseff and Aisha, fled Syria with their three children after Youseff was shot in the arm and stomach while sitting outside his home. They have been warmly welcomed into the county and have been helped by local volunteers to learn English.

"Svitlana Semiamista managed to leave Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv with her son Vov, who was then seven, a few days after Russian troops invaded the country in February 2022.

"They initially found a home with volunteer hosts in Lazonby, where they now rent a house. The Cumbrian kindness has been remarkable - a neighbour gave £200, and friends combined to buy the family a fridge and washing machine.

"Both families have received grants from the Foundation’s Welcome Fund for basics like clothes, glasses and help with training, language skills and driving lessons. 

"I’m deeply proud that Cumbria has welcomed these families with such kindness and that people have given generously to help them make the best of a terrible situation. BBC Radio Cumbria allowed me to judge their Make a Difference Awards this year.

"Recently I gathered with civic dignitaries and people of note at the Greenhill Hotel alongside the shortlisted candidates to enjoy the prize giving. To me, the candidates represent ambassadors for the communities we live in, volunteers running lunch clubs for older people, community fundraisers scaling thousands of peaks, charities innovating to reduce waste.

"The list goes on. I’m sure good stuff happens in other places, but we know Cumbria has some of the highest levels of volunteering of anywhere in the UK and we have over 6,000 community organisations and charities involved in the arts, culture, sport, healthcare, education, conservation etc.

"Why choose Cumbria? I think I’ve answered the question.”