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virtuVAL AGM Success – “who knew an online AGM could bring you to tears!”

Added: 24/09/2020

This year VAL’s AGM made the move to online. It proved to be a huge success and the sense of community and togetherness was as present as ever.

Given the current restrictions around meeting together for events VAL took on the challenge of having a virtual AGM this year. Following the roaring success of festiVAL last year, there were concerns as to whether we could achieve something as uplifting and with as much impact again, online.

Well… the challenge was met!

virtuVAL was attended by over 90 people online via zoom, and was live-tweeted using #virtuVAL2020 alongside #togetherleeds (which has been used throughout the pandemic).

Our Chair Chris Hollins warmly welcomed everyone and Emma Baylin from Shared Harmonies (@SharedHarmonies) got us off to a lively start by getting people up on their feet for a warm-up session. Followed by everyone singing together, first with call and response then by harmonising in the round (not possible online you say – we say of course it is!).

The guest speaker Shaid Mahmood, Chief Officer, Communities, Leeds City Council, then took to the stage to celebrate the amazing work that has gone on over the last several months in implementing a united and rapid response to the coronavirus in Leeds. “We mobilised a volunteering effort from across the city that was up and running far quicker than the national effort”. He gave recognition to the Third Sector, as well as Leeds City Council for their efforts, saying that the right decisions were made at the right time and that lending on established relationships and developing new relationships played a big role in supporting communities in Leeds.

Richard Jackson, Chief Officer, Voluntary Action Leeds, went on to describe VAL’s contribution to the outstanding City-wide response, with a focus on neighbourliness. He highlighted the vital role that the Doing Good Leeds website and newsletters played in making COVID-19 updates accessible to people of Leeds: “There were over 200,000 visits to the neighbourliness pages on the DGL website.”

Both Shaid and Richard gave thanks to a number or organisations and partnerships across Leeds for actioning the unprecedented response, as well as praising the countless individuals who gave their time to support their community. Over 8,000 Leeds residents registered as Community Care Volunteers in response to the COVID-19 crisis, to ensure that those in the greatest of need were able to access support. Voluntary Action Leeds and Leeds City Council established the programme, which matches volunteers with vulnerable people in need of help with a range of tasks – from shopping deliveries to dog walking. To make this possible, a network of 27 local third sector organisations were established across all 33 wards in Leeds, known as ‘Community Hubs’.

A video celebrating the Community Care Programme was then shared for everybody to see the exceptional dedication of all the Hubs and Volunteers throughout the pandemic. It really shone a light on everyone’s hard work and the impact that volunteering has on peoples lives — it makes for an emotional watch!

If you missed it or would like to watch it again, you can below.


While we recovered from that powerful video, Chris Hollins took us through the more ‘formal’ parts of the AGM; VAL’s business and accounts. He also gave praise to the collective effort and response from Leeds, saying “The third sector has stepped forward and done its bit alongside many other organisations. Many new partnerships have been forged.”

Partnerships, community engagement, and neighbourliness were all highlighted as areas of work to be continued and built on going forward, thanks to the success demonstrated during this difficult time.

The wonderful feedback received from participants during and after the event shows that virtuVAL 2020 was indeed a success! It seems even though we cannot be together in person, bringing the third sector together in this virtual way has made people feel more connected, empowered, and grateful for their involvement in the third sector.

The overwhelming message to leave you with from today has been thank you Leeds, and thank you all.

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