COMMUNITY resilience groups which helped residents throughout East Lothian during the first lockdown last spring are not expected to be relaunched.

Hundreds of volunteers stepped forward in March to help more than a dozen voluntary groups in towns and villages across the county.

Volunteers did everything from collecting shopping and prescriptions to dog walking and providing someone to talk to for vulnerable members of the community.

Members of the community also gave up their time for a number of months to produce face masks, scrubs and shields for key workers.

New lockdown restrictions were introduced on Monday by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Representatives of East Lothian Council met the following day to discuss if there was a role for the community groups. However, it is understood that community groups will not step forward at the moment.

Chris McEwan, chairman of Haddington’s community council, was heavily involved in the resilience efforts in the town last year.

He said the decision on whether the resilience groups could return lay with the local authority but stressed volunteers had already been in touch to see if their help was required.

Mr McEwan said the group would “spring” into action if required and added: “The resilience team will be there ready. We have had discussions with a couple of volunteers but officially the council has to activate the group.”

It was a similar story in Dunbar, where community volunteers were on hand to help with a number of tasks, including providing hot meals to vulnerable people and those shielding.

Disused laptops and tablets were also refurbished and passed on to students who were unable to attend school.

George Robertson headed up Dunbar’s community resilience team, which was split into nine areas covering both the town and neighbouring West Barns.

The community councillor and chairman of Dunbar and East Linton Area Partnership said he was waiting on confirmation from East Lothian Council as to whether they would need to reconvene, something also echoed in North Berwick.

Judy Lockhart, chairman of North Berwick Community Council (NBCC), said it too was waiting on authorisation from the council.

She added: “There are concerns about the pressure that leading the resilience had on volunteers last time. NBCC is run completely by volunteers, many of whom also have full-time jobs.

“We had lengthy discussions with ELC last time round and provided them a report on all we had done.

“We hope that if resilience is required again, there will be far more support and our level of involvement will be lessened. We will await an update.”

At the group’s virtual meeting on Tuesday, the ward’s new Connected Communities manager Doug Haig reminded members that the community centre had food and essential household items available to those finding themselves in difficult circumstances.

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “The support provided by our wonderful local resilience groups to the most vulnerable in our communities during the first lockdown early in 2020 cannot be underestimated. They were a lifeline to many.

"During this current temporary lockdown, the council has decided that at the moment, it is not necessary to reinstate these groups.

"The current advice is for those on the shielding list to work from home where possible and, where not possible, to stay away from the workplace. They are not being asked to undertake full shielding again, but to pay particular attention to national advice on avoiding infection.

"For that reason, and the fact there is more support available now than in March last year, for example access to priority supermarket delivery slots and support grants for self-isolation, we are not asking resilience groups to operate again.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and, if there is an increase in demand for support, we will respond to that in the most appropriate way.

"We will also be issuing a reminder of the support available via our website, social media channels, our local media partners and via community councils.”