#NeverMoreNeeded The impact of local organisations
Community & Voluntary Services Cheshire East
Central Cheshire Buddy Scheme - During March 2020
CCBS supports children and young people with disabilities, their families and their siblings.
Cheshire Buddies realise that for the next few months it will be a difficult time for children and families because of the pandemic corona virus which has forced the country to shut down and self -isolate. We have never experienced anything like this in our lives, and it is an incredibly challenging time and uncertain scary time for all of us. Schools are closed, activities after school and at the weekends are cancelled. There are no cinema trips, swimming, trampolining - everything is shut down
families are self- isolating or socially distancing from family and friends. The normal routines and structures will be forgotten for the time being. This has a massive impact on peoples mental health and wellbeing; people may feel low or anxious as that they can’t draw on the support of their friends and family to help deal with the difficult situation and share their worries and concerns
Many families that Buddies support are one-parent families, disabled parents, low-income families. Parents are trying to entertain their children, providing 24/7 care for their child, many of whom have complex care needs, severe learning difficulties, autism, physically disabled, all vulnerable children. We know that there are certain parents that have underlying health conditions and they too are high risk. We know that Care Workers cannot provide the support, they too must self isolate or there is a risk that a vulnerable child could become infected. The care rests on the parent, leaving them exhausted.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, CCBs have been proactive in securing funding to continue to support local families remotely
205 - Children and young people have received Bags of Happiness
138 - Easter Eggs given out
183 children and parents food bank referrals
92 - Regular home visits for crisis families ( doorstep contact) or families self-isolating due to serious health condition
643 - Phone Calls/txts (average 10 phone calls /text per day)
636 ( March to May) Hot dinners provided
Despite COVID 19 and the UK lockdown CCBS have continued to support local disabled children and their families.
Even as lockdown is lifted there will be a great deal of work to do to support families. Encourage children and young people that the world is safe and it is safe to go out.
We have managed to stay in touch with families during the crisis and offer help and support. We are aware that a great deal of help will be required over the coming months. We are unable to operate in our usual manner but believe that we can adapt and continue to support local disabled children during these difficult times.
Age UK Cheshire East
During this current COVID-19 crisis, we are working hard to support local older people.
Each and every week, we support over 300 older people, providing them with the necessary support and advice to enable them to negotiate this difficult period.
Here is a flavour of what we do each week.
Facebook Posts highlighting the impact of local organisations
Social Media Campaigns
#CheerForTheVolunteers and #NeverMoreNeeded are the two most pertinent social media hashtags publicly highlighting the impact, recognition and gratitude of the voluntary sector and its volunteers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has placed the country in lockdown.
#CheerForTheVolunteers celebrates, recognises and shows gratitude for those who elected to support our communities and local services voluntarily. As you #ClapForKeyWorkers please also #CheerForTheVolunteers
Post with the hashtag #NeverMoreNeeded to publicly highlight the critical importance of your organisation's services and the voluntary sector as a whole, in supporting our communities responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government cannot afford to overlook or undervalue the not for profit sector at the moment.
As we navigate the worst impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, people across the country are relying on charities, for the essential support they provide and how they shape our society for the better.
And we’ll all continue to rely on charities’ expertise and experience in the recovery effort that lies ahead.
We should be proud and celebrate our sector's impact on the nation's response to COVID.
Volunteers provide critical support to charitable services even when the nation is not facing a pandemic. But the level of support volunteers have provided to our communities in response to COVID-19 has been exceptional. Every individual who volunteered their time and elected to play an active part in making sure the most vulnerable in our communities were provided for and charity led services could meet extra demand deserve recognition and be celebrated.
If you are a community response volunteer or know someone who is, please complete the linked webform and tell the world what it is like being a volunteer responding to the national crisis. Submission will be featured on this webpage and celebrated on social media.
Being a Community Response Volunteer
Kerrie Hewitt, 43 from Wilmslow
Community Response Volunteer
- Her first volunteering experience -
I started by volunteering to collect shopping/prescriptions etc for my local community, running a WhatsApp group for everyone to communicate on. It then grew into providing meals twice a week to a local residential home where so many are shielding. This has been a great experience, getting to know so many lovely people.
I was also a volunteer for Wilmslow health centre for 6 weeks, keeping the public safe as they went to the centre and pharmacies. This involves 2-3 shifts a week, alongside some other great volunteers. I still volunteer for the group, however, this is now delivering prescriptions out in the community once a week. I’m so glad I’m doing this right now, I feel that I’m doing everything I can for my neighbours and community while making some amazing friends that probably would never have happened otherwise.
I initially volunteered through ‘Wilmslow self-isolation group’ on Facebook and it grew from there. Started by delivering volunteer leaflets offering my services to over 100 households. I felt I had to do something to contribute when lockdown first came in. It was obvious that so many people were vulnerable and needed to have a point of contact for help.
It’s made me much more patient, to realise that sometimes we needlessly run around at the speed of light just because it’s habit. And I love making people smile - it makes me smile. I feel like I’ve made a difference, even though it’s on a small level. I had a lovely letter from a gentleman at the residential home, saying what a vital service I was providing him and his neighbours. It was so heartfelt.
What would I say to anyone about volunteering? Just do one little thing. It’s amazing how it grows into a vital role for people in need. It makes every day feel very satisfying.
Jo, 40 something from Crewe
Volunteer Driver at Hopes & Beams
- Reached out to the organisation to volunteer -
I am a volunteer driver, delivering home-cooked meals to people in the community each lunchtime. I wanted to get involved and support a local charity who are doing such great things in the Crewe community. Like many, I suddenly found time available due to my full-time job having to stand still for a while.
It's great to give something back and hopefully make a difference to people who are having to adapt during these unprecedented times. Many of Hopes and Beams customers are self-isolating, perhaps vulnerable or on their own and often away from other family members so it's great to be able to become a friendly face and say hello as well as deliver them a fantastic meal as well.
Getting such regular and positive feedback from the customers is a great feeling and being able to take this back to Iain, Jane, Cameron and the team at Hopes and Beams.
I've also met lots of other brilliant volunteers that put themselves forward to help as drivers to enable this service to run so well.
If you can, please volunteer! It's great to be doing something really useful during these times and to be using my time effectively too. Volunteering really makes a difference, an opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people.
Bob Ellison from Crewe
Cheshire Buddies Volunteer
- Retiree supporting his community -
Bob volunteers on a regular basis and has done for 3 years. He supports children and young people with disabilities at many of our activity groups including Saturday club, Crewe Allrounders, Sibling Young Carers. You will often see Bob with the children either bike riding, playing football, canoeing or playing rounders!! Bob will also drive our Steve Morgan minibus!
Bob contacted Cheshire Buddies and said that he would be keen to help out where needed during this very challenging time Cheshire Buddies stopped all their regular activity groups but as a team, we decided to keep in contact with many of our families. This is a very difficult time for all families especially parents that have a child with a disability
We have kept in contact with families - doorstep contact, texts and phone calls. We are also dealing with families that are at crisis point. Buddies staff also helped another local charity The Wishing Well - who needed volunteers to deliver hot meals every day to old people that were self-isolating, Bob helped out with this too!
We also provided our families with bags of happiness - these contained activity packs and games for the children plus homemade cakes for all the Family - again Bob volunteered to help deliver the Bags of Happiness and this gave him the opportunity to chat to parents and children.
When asked why Bob got involved with Cheshire Buddies and this is what he said.... :
Reasons for joining buddies...I had just retired and I wanted to volunteer with children and having seen a presentation by Louise and Stephanie at a bidders meeting in Nantwich, I was convinced that I wanted to help children with a whole range of disabilities to do "normal activities".
'It has been a huge privilege to work as a volunteer for Cheshire Buddies for the last 3 years. During COVID the normal clubs and activities have gone but it was fantastic to go and deliver bags of happiness to the children and young people. The reaction when we appeared at the doorstep, was always one of delight. Their faces were full of joy and they and their parents were so thrilled that we had made the effort.'
'The reaction from older ones was first, great to see you, how are you and then how are Steph, Louise and Tori. That brought home to me just what a big extended family Buddies is. I can't wait for things to get back to some form of normality, so we can get out again, but in the meantime, supporting Buddies is helping me get through this "cold" as my grandson calls it!'
'Volunteering is a great way to give something back to your community but it also gives you such a sense of purpose
I joined Cheshire Buddies because I wanted to help children have the same opportunities as any child
The children always have a great time at Buddies'
Carole Kerr, 63 from Crewe
Admin & Research Volunteer for CVS Cheshire East
- Supports volunteers finding placements -
Carole carries out multiple varied tasks in her role volunteering with CVS, providing admin support, assisting with research and giving great support to clients accessing the services. She provides reception support to members of the public and assists with people making applications for volunteering and has given support to those people already volunteering. Carole is a massive help and support and makes an invaluable difference to the work we do and the support we offer at CVS.
Carole got involved in volunteering because after finishing work found she had more free time available and felt that she was in a more fortunate situation than others and so wanted to give her time to a worthy cause that would allow her to help others and to give something back. Carole had heard good things about CVS and its services through previous work and was keen to volunteer for the organisation.
Carole finds her volunteering very rewarding and it has given her an understanding and recognition of things she felt previously less aware of i.e peoples personal struggles and barriers.
"whatever small part I feel I have played it feels nice to see the difference my volunteering has made to somebody in terms of helping them overcome there own barriers, access the service hopefully leading to a start for better things for that person"
" A positive moment for me would be the first volunteering placement I helped research with CVS that led to a successful placement opportunity for somebody. This was such a good start for me I can still remember how pleased they were."
"As far as volunteering with CVS is concerned, everyone is so friendly helpful, welcoming and supportive. I would certainly recommend it to anyone else, there is something for everyone no matter the time you have to spare, they are so flexible. I would also say there are always opportunities to take part in social activities or things relating to other projects outside my role which gives a whole new dimension to being a volunteer."
Sue H, 66 from Audlem
Office Volunteer for ADCA (Audlem and District Community Action)
- Was an active volunteer before the pandemic -
I work as part of the team taking phone calls from members of the local community who require help with shopping, collection of prescriptions and transport to medical appointments.
Was an active volunteer before the pandemic with ADCA and our service was extended at the start of the COVID pandemic to provide further help and support to the vulnerable members of our community. I enjoyed my time volunteering for ADCA prior to the outbreak of COVID 19 and did not hesitate to continue to volunteer at the start of the pandemic.
It is not difficult to give a few hours of your time each week to volunteer and I find it rewarding to give something back to the community I reside in. There are times, especially when you have taken a phone call from someone who is really struggling during this pandemic and you have been able to help them even in a small way, you feel that you have accomplished something good that day and hopefully, in return, that person also feels less vulnerable.
An elderly person (90+) living alone with no nearby neighbours and family working on the NHS front line so were unable to visit. This person was so grateful to be able to speak to someone and be reassured that we would arrange to have shopping and prescriptions delivered to their doorstep, by one of our volunteers, as and when required.
At the end of the conversation, I was asked, “how do I make a donation, I am so grateful we’ve had this conversation and you are able to help me”
It did bring a tear to my eye! Volunteer if you can, you won’t regret it and it can be very rewarding.
Tasha Wilkinson from Crewe
Volunteer for Cheshire Buddies
- Volunteers and works full time -
Volunteering for two years, Tash supports Children and Young People with disabilities at the Saturday Club which runs once a month at the Georges Community Centre in Crewe. Cheshire Buddies have on average 30 children that attend the Saturday Club - it is always busy with lots of activities including football, arts and crafts, music sessions, baking, den building, sensory play! and more! Tash is great at encouraging the children to take part in an activity - she loves all the messy play. During the COVID 19 Buddies have stopped all our activity groups for now but we have remained in contact with our families.
Tash contacted Cheshire Buddies and said that she would like to help out if possible in anything that Buddies would be planning to do during this challenging time
with lockdown and not being able to run any clubs we thought it was important to keep in contact with parents and children.
Each child has been given a Bag of Happiness which contained all sorts of great things to do - games, toys, arts and crafts, cooking packs, homemade cakes for all the family - it has been a great way to keep in touch and say hello and see how they are all doing! Tash has been delivering the Bags of Happiness to the children. Tash has also just started to help with the Garden Buddies and yet again the children have loved having her in their garden to play!
'Volunteering has grown my confidence and has improved my ability to think on my feet. Sometimes you will be in new situations and although there will be support available, its a great way to push yourself and find out about strengths you didn't know you have!'
'Volunteering makes me feel proud that I have made a difference to someone else and used my time more wisely - I love relaxing and enjoying my free time, but just giving a few hours to others is incredibly rewarding. It is often humbling as well, that people appreciate your free time and the skills you have when it can be easy to dismiss the smaller things in life.'
'I've really enjoyed helping out during lockdown, and it's given me a goal. Each week I looked forward to the rounds, as not only did it get me out of the house, but I was bringing joy to other people. Some parents/carers hadn't spoken to an adult in weeks so it was nice for them to be able to have a proper discussion and tell us how it was going. It has been a very fulfilling experience in time without much direction or structure and I have been proud to help a charity that has adapted to the current situation and proved that help was possible during quarantine and there was a need for it!'
'If you have even the smallest desire to volunteer, give it a go! You might not realise how fun it is until you try! Also remember, like paid jobs, they might not always be the right fit for you - if you try one type of volunteering but you didn't like it, that doesn't mean you won't like any type of volunteering ever, it means you've found something you don't like which is just as valuable! Give lots of different things a go and you will find something that brings you joy and will benefit your community!'
Johnathon Greenfield, 32 from Macclesfield
Website and Social Media Volunteer
- Volunteers for multiple organisations maintaining online communications -
I am volunteering currently in multiple roles with several charities. I am the volunteer website manager and social media manager with Elizabeths Group, where I am currently redesigning a website ready for launch at the end of June, and also helping with a statue fundraising campaign. I also volunteer with Methodist Homes as a social media manager, managing all their Macclesfield platforms. I also volunteer with the Khai Tzedek project as a website and social media manager.
I applied for Elizabeths Group directly through the CVS website which was very easy to use. I obtained my other volunteering placements with the Khai Tzedek project and Methodists Homes with support from CVS and the New Leaf programme.
Volunteering has massively increased my confidence and allowed me to greatly expand my skillset into areas I might not have looked at previously such as social media for example. Talking with my placement supervisor and seeing that she is happy and confident that these areas and platforms are covered and managed, to see the difference this is making has made me feel positive and fulfilled
To anyone thinking about volunteering, I would say do it! I think that some people think that volunteering is working for free and that you don't get anything out of it but I would say that is simply not true at all from my experiences.