Calderdale Council set up a Virtual Volunteer Hub to help coordinate community support as part of the Council’s 10-point plan to respond to COVID-19.
The Hub went live on Friday 27 March and has been working hard to match requests for low level support, such as shopping and collecting medicines, to local groups and volunteers since then.
The Hub has a strategic team working closely with five virtual locality teams who are connecting with local groups and communities in specific areas of Calderdale, to make sure that everyone gets the support they need. This builds on the partnership model that the Council developed during the 2015 and 2020 floods – although operating virtually.
The Hubs main role is co-coordinating volunteers but we are also trying to provide useful information and advice and guidance on all aspects of the community response on our web pages https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/coronavirus/community-support including:
- A Directory of Local Groups providing support – this is being updated weekly. If you know of groups who should be added please email us. email@example.com
- A Food Directory to help people find local shops and delivery services – this is updated weekly. If you are a business that would like to be added please email us. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Safe Volunteering during Covid (including safeguarding, use of PPE, handling cash, dog walking etc). Where possible we are referring to national guidance and good practice but we will also try and answer questions if you have them. Please email email@example.com
- Information about foodbanks – what donations they need and when they are open https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/community-and-living/tackling-poverty-calderdale/food-banks
- Advice on funding and support for voluntary and community groups impacted by Covid 19. The Council is working closely with the VSI Alliance who are talking to and supporting the VCS during this difficult time. They are running webcasts for groups and have resources here: https://cvac.org.uk/covid-19-resource-hub/
- We have also launched a new Calderdale Council Emergency Support Fund for community groups helping their communities during Covid in partnership with the Community Foundation for Calderdale. The information is on the CFFC’s website here: https://www.cffc.co.uk/
How the Virtual Volunteering Hub works
The Hub receives requests for support through referrals from services. People can also self-refer through our web pages here: https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/coronavirus/community-support.
People needing help can also phone 01422 392890
A leaflet about the Covid response from the Council will be arriving at every household in Calderdale this week to help get the message out as we realise that not everyone will have access to information on the internet.
Once the Hub has received the request for support, Duty Social Workers assess all requests to make sure that people who need professional support will get this. Our volunteers are only tasked with the most basic, but incredibly important support, like collecting food or shopping and/or prescriptions and dog walking! We are also arranging telephone calls for people who are lonely and need a chat through our Staying Well team.
Referrals are sent to local hub and matched to a volunteer from our registry or to a local voluntary and community organisation partners, to ensure that this work can be done safely and effectively
The Hub is mainly staffed by Council Officers in the Voluntary Sector, Neighbourhoods and Staying Well teams with additional support from other staff who have kindly offered their help.
We have had an overwhelming offer of support from Calderdale residents who have responded to our call to action. We have over 700 local people signed up to offer their help or support to local communities. (We even had one person offering to help from Halifax, Nova Scotia! Though sadly we had to turn him down due to travel restrictions…)
Since the hub went live our volunteers have delivered shopping and food parcels and picked up medicine for over 501 residents that have been referred to us needing support. We know that this is complemented by a huge amount of mutual support and neighbourliness going on across Calderdale. We are working with local groups as much as possible to make sure people do not fall through the cracks.
We have already had some wonderful compliments from local residents…
A big “thank you” to all the volunteers who are helping the elderly and vulnerable in this area.
A special thanks goes to Ashleigh, our shopper, who did a wonderful job last Wednesday and has said she would do the same each week. It is wonderful that Halifax has such a good group of volunteers who are certainly helping to curb this terrible spread of COVID-19. Thanks must also go to the Community Hub and yourself, Shameem for organising this voluntary work.
Many thanks to you all, John & Sylvia (Trinity Court)
Thanks to all our volunteers, partners and colleagues across the Council who have helped us to set up an entirely new service from scratch in a few weeks to refer people needing help, recruit new volunteers and match volunteers to the people needing help across our communities. It has be a steep learning curve but an amazing demonstration of team work, innovation, collaboration and above all – kindness, resilience, enterprise and talent in action. Thank you to you all.
This work is absolutely vital for our extremely vulnerable residents and will allow our specialist social care staff to focus on residents with higher care needs. Residents with high needs will be supported by the Council’s social care team. If you have any questions about how to volunteer safely please have a look at our webpages or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, or to express interest in volunteering opportunities to support local communities visit www.calderdale.gov.uk/coronavirus under the Volunteering section.
If you or anyone you know who lives in Calderdale is in need of additional support, please fill out the form at https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/coronavirus. People who don’t have access to the internet can telephone 01422 392890 and the Council’s Customer Service Advisers will offer guidance and support.
Other ways to help
Food banks appeal
If you are not able to volunteer you can still help vulnerable residents. Our food banks are quite low and we are appealing for more donations. For more information please visit our web page. If you’re planning to drop off food at a food bank, please do this safely and in line with the Government guidance on staying at home and away from others, to protect yourself and other people.
Another way to help is through donating to the community resilience fund to support front line charities locally and help local vulnerable people. The Community Foundation for Calderdale has set up a Local Giving page – please take a look for more information.
Calderdale food directory
The Food Directory is a list of grocers, shops, restaurants and cafes, which are offering delivery or pre-order and collect. It is particularly useful for people who are self-isolating, or may find it difficult to get to the shops. The directory is updated on a weekly basis and you can view it here.
To get a business listed on the Food Directory please email Volunteeringcovid19@calderdale.gov.uk.