Q1 Foundation started working with Streatley Emergency Response Group (SERG) and Goring Parish Council (GPC) to build a more formal volunteer network to support this initiative.
For more information please click here
We helped street champions understand safeguarding issues and created the Goring and Streatley villages helpline. This was staffed 7 days a week by trained volunteers and has been greatly appreciated by our residents.
We used our active local social media, and postcards through doors, to make sure people knew about the helpline and how to contact us.
A particular benefit was that the helpline could coordinate pharmacy pick-ups, to reduce queuing and frustration.
This made sure residents received their medication on time, which was much needed because of the big increase in prescriptions.
We also supported the Parishes to recruit volunteers to undertake other roles, such as phone buddies, and provided tailor made training to prepare them as well as organising their DBS security checks.
The volunteer support activities and helpline were developed and are still running through:
- Pro bono support
- Small reimbursements from the parish councils
Having recently reviewed the helpline and volunteering work, we have found it has made an important difference, for all local residents impacted by the pandemic, and also for the volunteers themselves.
What are we doing now?
Q1 Foundation has been awarded £9664 from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund!
The grant is available to cover costs from the date of the award letter, which was 3rd July, and needs to be spent within 6 months.
We want to be able to carry on providing the service we have been providing by, and for local people for another 6 months.
It is likely our community will be impacted by the Covid Pandemic for many months if not years to come. However we need to remain realistic about the costs of providing ongoing community support, and the Lottery funding will give us until January to work up a more resilient and longer term plan.
This project has been entirely to support people impacted by COVID-19; particularly those who are at highest risk and/or self-isolating because of their age, medical history or other vulnerability.
Also, those impacted by the stresses of the pandemic (e.g. close proximity with family, loss of income) or with existing problems (e.g. anxiety, depression) are exacerbated.
Having a single helpline number has been particularly important in Goring and Streatley because although we are one community (shared shops, surgery, etc) the villages span two counties (across the river).
By training and deploying local volunteers and linking with street champions, we have been able to support those at highest risk, and those who might otherwise ‘fall through the cracks’.
We offer both practical and emotional support (e.g. how funerals are now being organised, having someone to listen).
The helpline has become essential to ensure people can get their medication picked up by volunteers, when they need it.
We want to make sure we keep this activity moving forward for the next phase of the Coronavirus response.
It’s all thanks to you!
We’d like to sing the praises of the Helpline volunteers, who have ‘manned’ the phone, throughout this crisis. They have worked a rota system, using phone apps so they could work remotely as the Hub needed to close to the general public.
All were trained, in Safeguarding, and in particular confidentiality, due to the potentially intimate nature of some of the calls received. They also received training on listening and communication skills, and how to use the IT systems set up to support the Helpline.
Processes and risk assessments have been established to support them to support the community.
We worked up clear channels of communication and sign posting to ensure no one was left with out help. The Villages Helpline will continue to be available for as long as it’s needed.
The project has totally come from local residents and organisations coming together to help their neighbours in the pandemic; an extraordinary community response, with so many people involved in identifying needs, designing and delivering the support and practical help.
E.g. The Streatley Emergency Response Group (SERG) includes parish councillors plus residents; a regular bereavement/resilience group includes the local faith organisations, therapist groups, and care providers.
The Volunteers and Villagers who provide the local e-news, Goring Gap News publication and management the social media pages, have regular communications meetings, to ensure the information and messing is clear, accurate and up to date for our residents to read.
Volunteer roles have included:
- IT buddies – helping local people get online so they can talk to their family;
- Phone buddies – people willing to spend time just listening to those who are alone and isolated;
- Village champions – helping get shopping, or doing runs to the nearest food bank for those in greatest need.