Establishing and maintaining strong community integration and interaction by the creation of a team of volunteers to support all local charity, town events, crisis/emergency planning, buddy system and social integration for the elderly, food/essentials for low income/elderly and vulnerable people etc which have historically not been optimised due to lack of team working between the towns organisations and also the lack of volunteer support due to no management system in place. We have now established a team of approx 130 volunteers who have already created new friendships and increased community integration and interaction. We want to keep this going but need support to continue.
As residents, we identified that there was no co-ordinated volunteer support in place to be able to quickly mobilise volunteer efforts for our town during the forecast COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020 a group was created on social media in order to offer support to the towns residents in relation to the Covid-19 crisis, within days we received offers from well in excess of 150 individuals. Guidance and process documents were created along with a structure to ensure smooth running and continuity of activities/requirements. A dedicated phone line was put in place and design and print of 4500 leaflets were then delivered to every house within the town. We have been identified as the beacon for East Riding in regards to our stet up, organisational skills and proactive activity. The groups volunteers collect prescriptions, do shopping and dog walking, we have phone buddy’s who ensure wellbeing of vulnerable residents and we also support and delivery of food parcels to the town and surrounding area for households who are encountering financial difficulties. Because of our structure, organisation and building of new relationships we have already potentially saved the life’s of 2 vulnerable people who before this project would have gone unnoticed until it was too late. Even if it was that alone, the establishment and continuation of the group is 100% worthwhile and is valuable to the town
Once the pandemic crisis is over we are going to continue the same ethos that we started with which was, 1) ensure our community residents receive appropriate support and no one goes hungry and 2) that what ever we do, we need to support local businesses by utilising their services/products. Because of the new relationships that have arisen through the volunteers and the residents, we now receive regular donations from 6 of the towns businesses. The new aim is to ensure that the towns community and its volunteer base becomes even more integrated, to do this we will continue to build, maintain and strengthen our volunteer base and community activity.
Our intention is to be central co-ordination point for all volunteer activity in the town, onboarding those who want to volunteer and linking this with any activities/ crises that need volunteer support. An important aspect to the management of this is the purchasing an annual licence for volunteer management software. This is provided by a company that every Police Force in the UK utilise for their Volunteer Management and that we have assessed as relevant and fit for purpose for the use by our town too.
We will work in partnership with the Town Council, charities, groups and businesses in supporting and increasing a number of events, celebrations and activities focussing on social interaction and community spirit which are all areas that benefit the residents and the towns businesses. In turn it will also impact on crime reduction, building of relationships, support of elderly, vulnerable, lonely/isolated and the youths and generally raise the spirits of the towns folk.
There are huge mental health benefits to both the volunteers and the community. Already we have identified an increase in confidence, self esteem and general well being of volunteers through the satisfaction of helping others. Those who we support now feel they have some light in their lives which has dramatically decreased anxieties and fears and has also meant that families who otherwise may not have food are now supported and will not go hungry when they have to choose between paying a bill or putting food on the table.
Community spirit has diminished through the years and now is the ideal time to build it back up and keep it going by having a group whose focus is to bring the town together ensuring that group gatherings/activities/foodbank are all well supported and raising awareness that supporting each other does make a difference.
Reg Number: 06455490 | Charity Number: 1125856