7,500 volunteers to deliver vital services and support
Over 7,500 Leeds residents have now registered as Community Care Volunteers, joining forces with third sector organisations to deliver vital services to people in need across the city.
Part of Leeds’ coordinated city-wide response to the coronavirus crisis, delivered by Leeds City Council and Voluntary Action Leeds, a dedicated network of third sector organisations working as ‘Community Hubs’ are now working hard in each ward of Leeds to deploy volunteers, to support to those in greatest need.
Anyone who requires support should contact Leeds City Council’s helpline on 0113 378 1877 to identify themselves and be matched with a local volunteer in the programme who can help.
Thousands of volunteers will be delivering vital services over the coming weeks, providing practical support to individuals such as delivering shopping, preparing meals, dog walking and making check-in phone calls. Volunteers can also opt to help informally within their own neighbourhood in more general ways.
Lead organisations working in partnership with Leeds City Council and VAL to coordinate voluntary activity in each of the 33 wards are as follows:
To ensure a coordinated delivery, lead organisations will work closely with Leeds City Council and VAL, who will offer ongoing guidance, links to the Council’s emergency food service as it develops, as well as links to local ward members, and other council, third sector and local services which are responding to the pandemic.
Organisations and groups wishing to find out more about their local community hub or discuss existing or potential activity in their area should contact Voluntary Action Leeds by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0113 297 7920.
Volunteers can expect to be contacted by their local community hub to help from this week, however not all volunteers will be contacted immediately; many more will be deployed as demand for support increases.
All volunteers supporting in the community have received an online induction, to ensure both volunteers and those receiving support are as safe as possible. Volunteers will also have ID badges and a Leeds City Council letter as proof of identification.
Richard Jackson, Chief Executive at Voluntary Action Leeds, said: “It’s inspiring to see so many people in our communities wanting to help and it is critical that we have the right systems in place, to get trained volunteers to vulnerable people who need support the most.
“We are extremely thankful to the thousands of people who have come forward and to the local, trusted organisations we’re now working with, who are working incredibly hard to match volunteers with need in each area.
“It’s vital that we continue to pull together, help each other and that we stay as safe as possible in the process and hopefully this coordinated effort, helps achieve this.”
Andrea Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of New Wortley Community Association, coordinating volunteer activity in Armley, said: “It’s an absolute privilege to be one of the community organisations appointed by Leeds City Council and Voluntary Action Leeds to serve the local community in these unprecedented times.
“The community spirit across Armley Ward is truly awe-inspiring and I would like to thank each and every volunteer who has signed up to help along with the staff team at the centre and the ward councillors for coming together and making this happen.
“In the first week alone we have helped over 60 local residents access food parcels, vital shopping items, prescriptions medication or just a friendly voice whilst they are self-isolating providing a vital life line to the outside world.”
Councillor Debra Coupar, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Communities, said: “It is heart-warming to see the city come together and support each other at this incredibly challenging time.
“I would personally like to thank each and every volunteer who has come forward to offer their time and urge anyone who hasn’t yet signed-up, but thinks they could to please get involved.
“Thanks must also go to all the charities working in each ward co-ordinating much needed help and assistance to those who need it most. We are tremendously grateful for their involvement in this vital work.”
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, said: “This project represents partnership working at its best and provides an essential lifeline for some of our most vulnerable citizens – not just with practical help but the reassurance there is a support network out there for them.
“It is an excellent solution which has been set up very quickly thanks to the hard work of council and third sector colleagues going above and beyond to help the people of Leeds.
“Residents can rest assured this union is totally committed to their health and wellbeing even if they find themselves in the most difficult circumstances.”
The vital support Community Care Volunteers deliver will be documented, along with wider community stories from across the city on www.doinggoodleeds.org.uk and via Voluntary Action Leeds’ Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels, with #TogetherLeeds.
The Community Care Volunteer team have also produced a ‘Being a Good Neighbour Pack’, offering tips and guidance to Leeds residents and anyone unable to volunteer on how to help generally in their local area and support neighbours. The pack is available for anyone to view and download here.