COVID-19 has impacted the way we live our lives and are able to go out in our communities. For many, particularly those over 70 years old or who have an under-lying health condition, Government advise is more stringent. Communities have rallied around each other to support those whose movements have become particularly limited. Councils across the country are working to engage, mobilise and support thousands of volunteers who are kindly giving their time to their communities and neighbours.
Here are some notable ways in which councils have been using their communication channels to recruit community volunteers:
Essex County Council – Essex Coronavirus Action
The Essex Coronavirus Action Facebook page now has 20,000 likes and aims to prevent people undertaking activities which would put them at risk, assist vulnerable members of the community and ensure they were receiving the correct information.
The group is also using its platforms to encourage individuals and businesses to volunteer to support vulnerable people in the community. Individuals and businesses can fill out an online form that allows them to offer their time for a variety of activities, from shopping to becoming a ‘phone buddy’ or supporting a carer.
Southwark Council galvanises local community through online groups
Southwark councillors have galvanised the community through mutual aid groups with over 3,500 residents volunteering through Facebook/WhatsApp groups and self-organising to provide help with shopping, prescriptions, phone calls and even dog walking.
Their website details the actions that they are taking to recruit volunteers, and importantly points to the actions that volunteers can do to keep themselves safe and protect those they are supporting.
Leeds City Council is working with Voluntary Action Leeds on Community Care Volunteering. The initiative is a coordinated effort to ensure that the most vulnerable people receive help and that all volunteers and recipients of support are safe.
A form allows volunteers to volunteer in a range of different roles, depending on availability and preference, or in a more general way in their neighbourhood. The effort is galvanised by the skills and networks of Voluntary Action Leeds, which works to support Leeds voluntary, community and social enterprise sector year-round.
Worcestershire County Council has launched a new ‘Here 2 Help’ campaign to help identify potential volunteers. The council has created an online form to find those who are prepared to volunteer goods, services or assistance for residents who need it.
The campaign also works to remind residents of five key actions, apart from volunteering, that everyone can take to protect themselves and others: take care of yourself and stay healthy, chat with others using the phone, consider others, keep in touch by staying online, and share accurate information and advice. The council has created accompanying social media collateral such as Twibbons to amplify the campaign’s message.