Over the last few weeks Jon Cruddas MP has been contacted by a number of residents who have received support from and praised the work of the Havering Volunteer Centre. This week Jon got in touch with the HVC for a short interview to find out how they have adapted their model to provide support for some of Havering's most vulnerable residents.
Shelley Hart, CEO of Havering Volunteer Centre said: "While other voluntary organisations closed their doors at the start of this crisis we remained opened every day, social distanced, sanitised and made sure the community was well supported. We were here to listen to their needs and address some of their concerns. Support them with emergency food supplies especially at a time when the shelves in shops had been decimated. Residents were afraid, alone and anxious, there are a lot more isolated, lonely and scared individuals affected by this than we first thought.
HVC have been flat out helping the community during this crisis. We have totally changed the way we are working and how we can address some of the issues the community is facing in lockdown and isolation. We suspended our normal service delivery of engaging volunteers for voluntary and community organisation to address this crisis and get volunteers mobilised to help the vulnerable in our community. For some HVC has been their lifeline, their sole support network and a place to receive a virtual hug of kindness.
Some people we are befriending have commented that we were the first people they had spoken to in 10 days. Another mentioned that our chats made her laugh and she had not done this in a very long time. We have been supported by the London Borough of Havering with extra emergency funding which has allowed us to engage temporary staff to cope with the extra demands on our resources. Without this support we would not have been able to help so many others. We have had 10 LBH Bailiffs helping, they have undertaken whatever has been asked of them to do, these bailiffs have a heart of gold.
Just to compare our increased level of work undertaken, this time last year we had 137 calls in a week. We have so far in 7-8 weeks taken 9000 calls from people needing support, advice, reassurance, food, medication and care. Some days we reached in excess of 490 calls. We are a team of 5 staff (they also volunteer extra hours) and 2 admin volunteers. We have been working relentlessly with just a very small team all who have big hearts."
Havering Volunteer Centre's Volunteer Heroes have gone above and beyond helping the community so far during C-19 with:
- - 520 emergency food parcels delivered
- - 539 prescriptions collected and delivered
- - 415 residents receiving regular befriending calls from their check in and chat buddy
- - 30 beloved pets have been walked regularly
- - 20 emergency food bank vouchers issued weekly
- - Over 9000 intervention calls helping the community