Many volunteer and mutual aid groups have mobilised to support communities in the response to COVID-19.
Councils communications teams can support volunteers in a number of ways, including by effective signposting and sharing the Government’s guidance on helping others safely.
There is a large amount of guidance on helping vulnerable people safely and hygienically, which can filter through the council’s communications to volunteers and local groups.
The Government has also produced guidance on how vulnerable residents can stay safe when accepting help from others.
Here are some notable ways in which councils have been using their communication channels to recruit community volunteers:
Wiltshire Council’s volunteer pack and community group map
Wiltshire Council has put together a volunteer pack, for local residents that intend to set up their own volunteer group. The pack covers Government guidance, hygiene best practice, tips for setting up a group and more. The pack is kept up to date to reflect any changes in key Government guidance change. The council is also asking any volunteers to let them know what activities they’re undertaking in the area by completing a short survey.
Gathering that data allows the council to keep their community group map up to date and accurate. It shows the general location of the community groups featured in the directory. To find out what services each group are offering, the area they cover and contact details, you can click on a red star. Having this information mapped out will allow new group to work where there may be less support available.
- Staffordshire County Council’s I Care campaign
Staffordshire County Council is recruiting volunteers to support vulnerable residents through their I Care campaign. Residents who want to sign up are directed to the council’s I Care website page that includes an online sign up form, a message from the Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing, and a description of what’s involved if you’d like to ‘step up’. Volunteers are encouraged to support people with personal care in their homes, from helping them out of bed in the morning to preparing meals.
Hackney Council’s guidelines for volunteers
Hackney Council has published new guidelines for its community volunteers including safety tips for residents who wish to set up a private community WhatsApp or Facebook group, one of the most common ways we’ve seen communities and neighbours mobilising.
- 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 volunteer hub
Leeds City Council is working with Voluntary Action Leeds on Community Care Volunteering. The Leeds City Council volunteer hub 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 launches ‘Here 2 Help’ campaign
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.