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Volunteer lockdown army helps to make Britain brighter

Research shows more than 12 million signed up, from helping at food banks to fighting loneliness

He calls her his “wee ray of sunshine”; she says he brightens her day and talking to him breaks up the hours alone in the house. It’s an unlikely friendship between an 18-year-old student and a 70-year-old man, Chris, born out of the worst health crisis in a century.

Freya Riley, from Kelty in Fife, saw an appeal for volunteers on social media last March and stepped forward. “I knew that people were feeling alone and I wanted to help,” she said.

Riley was one of millions who have volunteered to help others over the course of the past year. New research to be published on Monday reveals that a staggering 12.4 million adults in the UK have volunteered during the pandemic – with more than a third stepping forward for the first time.

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