When we went into lockdown I applied to the NHS volunteer responders appeal. I know that they were inundated so response time was slow. In the meantime, my husband who also works for Dudley MBC received an email through work asking for volunteers for Dudley CVS to help the local community so I put my name forward as well. I was soon contacted by Eileen and my story begins.
In normal life I work for Summerhill Pathways at Summerhill School in Kingswinford. Along with working in the office I am also teach swimming and lifesaving.
I was quickly matched up with three people who needed help with their shopping. When I first rang to introduce myself, I was a little nervous but we soon started to get to know each other. We have now got into a lovely little weekly routine starting with a chat for the shopping lists and a chance to find out a little bit more about each other. My Mum is vulnerable and lives in Shrewsbury so when we went into lockdown I knew that my sister would take care of her but I felt a bit useless. So, I started this process to help where I could. What I didn’t expect was to find three different, lovely people who are so grateful of my help but, in turn, have also helped me through these strange and unprecedented times by giving me a sense of purpose. I feel like we have sailed a path through these stormy waters together and we will keep going until we are able to step out onto a safer shore having battled this storm in the best way we can, with care and kindness for each other.
We will never forget one another and I hope one day, when all this is over, we may be able to sit down and have a proper conversation over a nice cup of tea.
Sam and Sharon Meese
Mum and daughter join forces to support the isolated
Myself and my mum decided to volunteer to help our community. I am a primary school teacher so after schools closed I wanted to help the vulnerable to carry on with life as normally as possible. My mum is a carer who looks after an elderly relative and volunteers in a local Mary Stevens hospice shop.
We have had a number of local residents in Kingswinford and Amblecote we have been shopping for, collecting prescriptions and offering a friendly chat on the phone when they need it.
We feel we have made a difference by allowing vulnerable people to have a connection to the outside world in this awful time. Without the volunteers, they wouldn’t have access to essentials at this difficult time. It has been a very rewarding experience and it’s brilliant to help to community where possible.
Thunderbirds are go!
Who are you?
I have lived in Wordsley for 28 years and ran a Computer Services Business locally until 2013. After selling my business I have continued to work on a self-employed basis mainly part time allowing me to have a good work/life balance.
How did you get involved?
I have volunteered for Operation Santa with my wife Sarah and when I heard Dudley CVS needed help during this current crisis I offered my help.
How did you make a difference?
I was allocated an area and my role is mainly collecting and delivering prescriptions for vulnerable residents living in my local area.
have also been asked to help with some shopping and I shop for one lovely old couple every Thursday Morning.
I have earned the role of ‘go to source’ for any emergency requests as I am always willing and happy to drop everything and get the job done, and now have the nickname Thunderbird 1!
How did it make you feel?
I have enjoyed meeting people living in my local area and also establishing a good relationship with local pharmacies. To have a sense of purpose during these difficult times has had a very positive effect on me.
Jayne Emery who is the network lead for the Wall Heath, Kingswinford, Wordsley & Amblecote locality network said:
I have been extremely lucky to have an army of dedicated volunteers who have supported with numerous shopping trips and medicine collections for vulnerable and shielded members of the community since lockdown.
Phil is one of these enthusiastic and committed volunteers. Nothing is too much trouble for Phil, and over the last 10 weeks, he has supported a number of people with their weekly shopping trips along with undertaking on average two medicine collection runs per week.
Tomorrow you will meet Sam and Sharon 🙂
Rose Cook Monk
Tells us why she is going to be that friend!
I had a telephone call this afternoon from the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham saying that someone was in there that had a message for me. I was naturally concerned because I wasn’t aware of anyone I knew being there. It turned out to be an elderly gentleman that I’ve been doing shopping for since the lockdown after being matched with him by Dudley CVS Volunteer Centre (who are doing a fabulous job in our community during this most difficult of times).
I had been given his name and number but no other information. I’ve been taking his shopping, which I pay for, I ring him to tell him I’m on my way and he puts the money in an envelope – I ask if he’s ok – he always says the same thing “I am now I’ve seen you bless you for looking after me”.
Yesterday he fell downstairs in his maisonette and was found by his neighbours. When the nurse asked if there was anyone they could call I was the only person he could think of. I have only known him 5 weeks, barely had any conversation, his weekly phone call with his shopping list is always quite short – always asks how I am and worries that I’m keeping safe.
So why after such a short time with such little contact was I his only ‘friend’ – what on earth did this poor Man do before the lockdown? Who helped him? Who did he talk to? I offered to visit but they aren’t accepting visitors -they couldn’t even tell me his surname because I’m not a relative. I felt so bad for him and so very sorry. After all this is over how am I supposed to walk away from him? There must be hundreds of people like him out there. Please if you live by an elderly person or even someone living on their own – keep yourself safe – socially distance yourself – but knock on their door – drop a note through their letterbox, check that they are okay. One face, one voice could make all the difference to their day.
My thoughts tonight are with a lonely old man who needs a friend ……… I’m going to be that friend!
Tomorrow you will get to meet Phil 🙂
Volunteers Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.
We have been so fortunate to have over 600 wonderful local people sign up to support our six Dudley CVS Covid Locality Networks and they are out there in the community, making a huge impact to those who are isolated and vulnerable, dropping off medication or doing food shops. We have selected 7 stars (including a double act!) who have been supporting these networks for the past few months and will be recognising a star every day of Volunteers Week.
Please join us every day from 1st-7th June to hear some very special volunteers tell us why they love what they have been doing. Our first star tomorrow is Rose, so why keep your eyes peeled for our daily stars?
We still need to recognise those amazing volunteers so let’s get creative!
This year, because of the coronavirus situation, many organisations have taken the difficult decision not to go ahead with all the things they would usually do for Volunteers’ Week, so we are going virtual. For some ideas on how you can celebrate your own wonderful volunteers please see our inspirational post with some ideas and e-thank you cards please click here –
Women & Theatre is developing an ambitious online community production involving women across Birmingham & the Black Country as research participants & performers. Women in Lockdown will use music & ensemble performance to share authentic accounts of the impact of social isolation on women in this unique period of History.
We would like to speak to women of all ages and backgrounds from Birmingham & the Black Country about their ‘lockdown’ stories and reflections of this time. Research will take place in May 2020 and interviews can happen over the phone, via email or zoom, individually or in groups.
To get involved, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07849 214 799.
This project is funded by Arts Council England.
Help us recognise the contributions of our incredible local volunteers
Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. This year, because of the coronavirus situation, many organisations have taken the difficult decision not to go ahead with all the things they would usually do for Volunteers’ Week.
We still need to recognise those amazing volunteers so let’s get creative!
So what could you do for your volunteers even if you can’t meet them physically? We all have some fabulous volunteers and the coronavirus pandemic is a stressful, and isolating time for many of us, affecting not just our physical, but also our mental health and wellbeing. Volunteers are no different, particularly if they are currently supporting with the pandemic, supporting communities and isolated, vulnerable individuals.
- Ring your volunteers to check in with them and say a personal thank you if you can, or perhaps you would prefer something more interactive. Why not set up a Zoom call to your volunteers? If you have lots of volunteers you may need to do several sessions, but they are worth it aren’t they?
- Add some fun to your online chat and organise a virtual morning coffee or afternoon tea party, suggesting they join in with a cuppa and of course a piece of cake! Have a relaxed chat and you can then see for yourself how they are and if they are coping with the social isolation. It may be that some of them need a little one-to-one support from you, or you may need to signpost them to a local group who could offer shopping or meds collection, or some telephone befriending.
- Post them a thank you card or certificate to say you appreciate them.
- Or you could send them an e-thank you card to recognise their contribution. Eileen from the Volunteer Centre has created two different designs [one to recognise Covid volunteering and another generic thank you card], which she is happy to customise for your organisation. Just contact her on email@example.com with your logo and organisation name, and she can send the personalised e-card back as a picture or PDF file.