A LOCAL environmental group is encouraging people to ‘stay connected while keeping your distance’.

Otley 2030 is keen to help out - and shine a light on others who are doing so - during the Covid-19 outbreak and ‘lockdown’ on social contact.

Andy Boyle from the climate and sustainability group, which is working to help Otley become carbon-neutral, said: “We’re seeing fantastic examples of the deep community spirit we all feel – something that seems to be lost on social media and national news.

“It’s so important for all of our sakes that whilst we keep our distance, we stay connected.

“We’ll be signposting people to Otley Action for Older People and to Otley Courthouse who, with the help of Otley Town Council and others, are arranging support for those who need it.

“We’re also promoting guidelines for local people helping friends and neighbours in the light of the more stringent rules.

“Even the simple offer of help can be profoundly powerful in easing anxiety, whether you’re the one offering or receiving.

“The important thing is connection.

“As an example, one Otley 2030 member told a heartening story about chatting recently to a lovely new neighbour who was feeling very scared about the virus.

“We told her that we were starting to collect and exchange the phone numbers of people in the street to coordinate help.

“The neighbour loved that idea and a couple of days later she came back with a list of more than 40 households who had signed up.

“What was really striking was how much better she was feeling - she said she now felt really part of this community.”

The group is promoting Leeds City Council guidelines on how to look after each other safely, which can be found at doinggoodleeds.org.uk, and sharing tips and tools - including leaflet templates - which are available from websites such as https://covidmutualaid.org/.

Otley 2030 is keen for anyone who is coordinating action on their streets to register on the Covid Mutual Aid map, at https://www.togethertv.com/together-good-mutual-aid-covid19.

They are also being asked to tell the group about their initiatives by sending an e-mail to otley2030@gmail.com.