In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve quickly adapted, identifying new ways to make sure our amazing volunteers can keep supporting their communities. We’re massively privileged to have the trust and regular contact with isolated older people through our projects and programmes. So we’ve utilised this contact to reach out and use the creativity of our volunteers to do things differently. Because the work our volunteers do has never been more important.
In Milton Keynes, we run two separate projects supporting the community. A mentoring project for care leavers – Grandmentors – and a volunteer driving scheme, which usually takes elderly people to hospital and medical appointments.
Our trusted Grandmentors – who are already DBS checked, fully vetted and trained – are reaching out to the older people to offer practical and emotional support. This might mean shopping or in may mean a listening ear, whatever is needed at the time.
Our mentors will also be signposting the older people they talk to other community resources and charities, making sure they know and can access all the support available to them. And the volunteer driving scheme is looking at how our volunteer drivers can safely support the community, picking up essential supplies while making sure people are not put at risk.
Using new technology
In Brighton, our Lifelines project continues to provide an outlet for older peoples’ creativity and passion, whilst preventing loneliness and social isolation and improving their well-being. Lifelines is a longstanding has been running for 12 years and over that time hundreds of volunteers have supported older people.
Usually the older people and volunteers meet face to face but social distancing has meant that the volunteers and older people have had to think quickly and creatively to ensure that they still enjoy social time together.
So this week is the start of the group meeting via telephone and online, with our first ‘online quiz’. Run by quiz master is Sue, the quiz will be run for older people currently stuck at home,.
We know that online via video calling isn’t be accessible for everyone. So we’ve identified two platforms that can facilitate telephone activities at no cost to the people calling in. We hope to use this to run ‘telephone reminiscence’ groups. We’ll be testing these and, if they go well, we will expanding the range of classes and activities so that we are offering at least one activity a day, Monday-Friday.
And across the charity we’ve quickly re-designed our the way we work so that we can confidently and safely manage the huge response in people wanting to volunteer, and the connections and community support that follows.
We’ll keep innovating, and doing things differently so that we can keep supporting isolated people. If you want to support our work, get involved at volunteeringmatters.org.uk
Emma Thomas-Hancock, Director of Delivery