They include delivering much needed Protective Personal Equipment to GP surgeries, collecting and delivering prescriptions, shopping for those most in need and keeping in contact with the elderly who may be feeling lonely and isolated at this difficult time.

With many people at home during the lockdown, staff have made more than 500 phone calls to give fire safety advice and some 130 calls to support vulnerable families and signpost where other help is available.

It comes as part of the national Ready Willing and Able campaign launched by the National Fire Chiefs Council to shine a light on the extra work being carried out by fire and rescue services across the country.

Chief Fire Officer Ian Hayton said: “Cleveland Fire Brigade staff are committed to protecting our communities, particularly the most vulnerable and at risk, during these difficult times. We are currently working with the NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group in storing and distributing vital PPE equipment to GP surgeries across Cleveland.

“We are also supporting the four local authority vulnerable person’s hubs in each of our districts, delivering essential food and collecting and delivering prescriptions from pharmacies to vulnerable residents.

“In addition, as part of our Befriending Service in Hartlepool, where we help elderly people who may be lonely and isolated, our staff and volunteers have made nearly 200 phone calls and delivered shopping and prescriptions to many homes.

“Staff are also in regular contact with many residents offering free safer homes advice over the phone and continuing to fit smoke alarms for the most vulnerable where necessary.

“It is all part of a collective effort by many partners and agencies, to support people during this unprecedented crisis.”

As part of the Befriending Service, staff dropped off bread and milk to 102-year-old Elsie who said she was amazed by such generosity and enjoyed getting phone calls. Another resident, 85-year-old Peggy, cried when a hot meal was delivered and described staff and volunteers as “angels with wings.”