Staff volunteer during Covid-19

Healthwatch Staffordshire are volunteering their time during the Coronavirus pandemic

Carol, our Engagement and Information Lead, is providing support to two people who are in the shielding group, one being a relative living several miles away and one being a lady in the next village. This includes shopping, collecting medications if necessary and keeping in touch by phone, carefully following social distancing guidelines. By providing individual support these people have not needed to access any Local Authority or NHS Volunteers support.

Carol has also been keeping in touch with all our volunteers on a regular basis, some of whom fall within the vulnerable category and many within the group of people who need to take extra precautions. She has, when necessary, been able to give information about local support available. One volunteer was returning home after a hospital admission for a broken leg, who unfortunately went on to develop Covid-19. As they recovered and were due to be discharged home from hospital, having maintained contact with them during the hospital stay, she was able to assure them that if they needed any additional assistance apart from family help, that another of our volunteers who lived very locally, would be happy to assist with shopping.

Carol has also learned from our volunteers of the support that local communities are providing, whether it be a WhatsApp group on an individual road, to a village network, to a parish support group or a larger organisation. Our volunteers told us:

“I live in the village of Weston. Residents have formed a group called Weston Aid, this is supporting elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating individuals. Weston Aid members regularly check on people, do shopping and collect prescriptions. We started the support by sending a leaflet to everyone in the village, saying “If you are self-isolating, we can help”. We explained that support is available to people within the village and we can collect urgent supplies and shopping for those who need it. We have a phone line based at a local pub, manned by the publican, which is available between 10am to 8 pm, inviting people to call and saying that one of our volunteers will try to help.”

“I am a member of the Chase Coronavirus Support Network (CCSN). It has nearly 10,000 members and, apart from offering help for dog walking, medication and grocery deliveries etc, it allows for people to ask for details of shop opening times, availability of certain items etc. in their specific areas.”

“We have Eccleshall Cares – which currently covers the town but hopes to expand to cover the parish, local volunteers will shop for anyone isolating / pick up prescriptions / walk a dog etc. More locally, our road has set up it’s own group on Croxton Local, where members can post if they need anything / want to chat. Oh, and a neighbour who works at Eccleshall Surgery has volunteered to pick up any prescriptions, for those living in the area and who are registered at the surgery.”

We have heard from our volunteers about what they are doing. One of our volunteers is providing support with shopping and medications to three shielding people or families on her road, another has volunteered for telephone / skype befriending services, some have signed up to the NHS Volunteer scheme.

Cat, our Community Outreach Lead, also volunteers for Girl Guiding. She is a Rainbows Leader and an assistant leader at Brownies. Since lockdown Brownies has moved to a virtual setting. Indeed, 15th Stafford Brownies was one of the first units to embrace the new way of meeting. It made such an impact on Staffordshire Girl Guiding that they were featured in an article: 

Picture of Brown Owl’s point of view, doing a craft making a cat out of odd socks with the brownies. Picture shared with permission of Brown Owl, Jane Brookes.










Picture shared with permission of Lucy Hegarty of her daughter Orla, enjoying the online meeting while in uniform.





Cat, whose daughter is one of the Brownies who takes part, told us;

“It’s made a massive difference to the girls and the leaders. Some of the girls, like mine, don’t have any siblings, so being able to see their friends online once a week makes a huge difference to their mental health. It also helps them have a reference point in the week as to what day it is.

Rainbows and Brownies helps the girls forge friendships outside of school. During lockdown, many of the girls have been feeling isolated and lonely. Having this to bring them together, to do experiments, make crafts and have fun together has been incredibly important to them. My own daughter benefits hugely and it’s great to see her having so much fun.
It also helps the leaders; we miss the girls when the units aren’t meeting, and seeing their smiles, hearing their laughter, helps us too. The fun side is beneficial to our mental health! These friendships are incredibly important, it helps them socialise while being able to socially distance, and many will keep the friendships up outside of Girl Guiding. I’m still close friends with someone I met in Brownies nearly 40 years ago!”

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