Volunteering to help people affected by Coronavirus

If you are interested in helping voluntary organisations in Coventry that are supporting vulnerable people during this challenging time and want to get involved by volunteering

VAC released the following statement as guidance for those of you thinking about volunteering or helping others during these unusual and challenging times. Thank you for wanting to be part of the solution!

The advice below is accurate, but as the Government’s position is likely to change frequently as the situation develops, please follow all Government advice in the first instance.

Voluntary Action Coventry - Covid-19 statement

Released 23rd March 2020

Voluntary Action Coventry are working with other similar organisations in towns and cities across the country to give out consistent messages regarding the corona virus pandemic and volunteering.

What you can do now

The simplest thing everyone can do right now is look out for their neighbours and offer help with shopping and other errands if people cannot get out of the house.

And it's not just about neighbours who are self-isolating, stretched medical staff might also appreciate an offer of help.

There’ll be more information on the best ways to volunteer in the coming weeks. Charities are working with the government and local authorities to create ways for people to get involved.  Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint – we’re not at the peak and the time we need most people will likely be in a few weeks’ time. So, for now the best thing to do is just check in on neighbours.

If you do want to register to support local charities then HOPE Coventry Foodbank urgently needs volunteer drivers (under 70’s with a car) to deliver food parcels to homes. Contact 02476 993 770 or info@coventry.foodbank.org.uk to volunteer.

If you prefer to:

*telephone elderly people

*write to elderly people

*deliver meals on wheels to elderly people

*potentially deliver groceries (i.e. go shopping) or deliver medication

You can fill in the form to help here: https://forms.gle/pPWcF7j8jvEXHDQ38

For the present time The Jesus Centre in Lamb Street is continuing to support homeless and vulnerably houses individuals.

There is a need to gain additional volunteers to replace those who are over 70 and cannot continue. 

Here is a link to their website – they would be very glad to hear from you https://www.coventryjesuscentre.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering/volunteer-application-form/

Good Neighbours are looking for drivers who are available any days or times Monday-Friday (especially CV6) to help get food and medicines to isolated elderly people during the coronavirus pandemic. You will be matched with an older person in need to either assist them by collecting shopping and/or medicines, or deliver food bank and ready meal parcels.

If you think you can help, please follow this link to submit a volunteer application form: https://tinyurl.com/gncovid19.

Coventry City Council are looking for volunteers with key skills and experience in a social care setting, specialist or technical skill sets or people who simply want to offer help. Please contact their team at resourcing@coventry.gov.uk with your name, contact number and key skills and experience you wish to use to help during this pandemic.

The City Council have also just set up Community Resilience Co-ordinators who are trying to co-ordinate community support – take a look here: https://www.coventry.gov.uk/coronaviruscommunity

Local foodbanks will appreciate donations, and they may also need people to help with deliveries for those who can't leave the house.

And finally, I have attached two volunteer role descriptions for Carers Trust Heart of England – the informal carers in society who look after a family member with additional needs or disabilities desperately need extra support at this time.

All charities will need help

Lots of volunteering now for all sorts of charities is done by people who may not be able to volunteer right now. With older people in-particular advised to stay at home, the organisations that rely on them will be hit.

So now is actually a really good time to get in touch with local charities working on areas you care about – whether that’s the environment or health or anything – and see how you can help.

But try to remember: Charities are under a lot of pressure right now so don’t worry if they don’t get back to you immediately – they’ll be in touch when they need you.

Could people be using this as a way to abuse vulnerable or older people? Shouldn’t volunteers have checks?

99.9% of people absolutely want to do the right thing – but the sad reality is there are always a handful of people who’ll exploit any situation to take advantage.

That’s the reason why charities have things in place like DBS checks, insurance and references and why charities have procedures in place to prevent people from being able to take advantage.

Can anyone set themselves up as a support group?

Anyone can set up a group and it’s great that people have a natural impulse to do that. But of course people do need to be careful about the situations they’re putting themselves in.

We need to be conscious that it’s not just about protecting potentially vulnerable people but also avoiding putting themselves in a situation where they’re vulnerable to being accused of wrongdoing.

I’d be especially wary of handling people’s money, or going into people’s home alone, for example.

Once you start to form an organisation you encounter more legal responsibilities, even if you didn’t mean to. One of those is about how you’re managing safeguarding and a common part of doing that is DBS checks along with references and so on. And there are laws around this and it’s quite complicated.

That’s part of why the best advice for now is just to check on neighbours – if everyone does this we’ll be doing really well.

Do you need a DBS check if you’re delivering food to an elderly person?

Most volunteering roles don’t need criminal records checks. But if you were working or volunteering with an organisation and the role involved you providing care to a potentially vulnerable people, then they’d normally require a check for that.

That’s one of the reasons why you should be careful about what you’re doing if you’re volunteering for one of these new groups.

In particular, it’s best to avoid being alone with anyone who might be considered vulnerable, to protect everyone involved.

So sign up with local charities who’ll be in touch when they need you and look out for more official advice on getting involved over the coming week or so.

Charities are going to be under pressure. How can people help?

Absolutely – charities are going to be stretched. Lots of fundraising events that would have taken place have had to be cancelled. At the same time, many people who volunteer may not be able to, especially if they’re being advised to stay at home.

It’s not just about charities dealing immediately with coronavirus, this will affect all charities in one way or another.

The best thing to do is keep supporting the causes you care about. The British public are incredibly generous and we really need their help to keep our work going. So if there’s a cause you care about, they’d particularly appreciate a donation right now.

I’m feeling lonely and isolated, can you help?

Yes – our Chat Central project is trying to help people get through this challenging time by offering virtual workshops, meetings and telephone support.  If you or someone you know would like to connect please get in touch: chatcentral@vacoventry.org.uk or call Heather on 07840 550 801.

Contact us:

Voluntary Action Coventry

27-29 Trinity Street, Coventry, CV1 1FJ

T: 024 7622 0381