Leeds Community Cares Volunteering Scheme
The Leeds Community Cares Volunteering Scheme was set up in partnership with Leeds City Council and Voluntary Action Leeds in order to address growing needs in the city due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to co-ordinate getting food, medication and other support to vulnerable people across Leeds, tackling inequality in the city during what is a precarious time for many.
The Orion consortium are collectively covering the Chapel Allerton ward, with Space2 allocated as leading on a Tuesday. Our community support workers are in regular contact with 15 volunteers who have supported those in need with various requests for assistance. This has ranged from collecting food parcels and prescriptions to a friendly voice at the end of the phone. Working with Touchstone, the Orion consortium have dealt with an average of 65 referrals a week.
This change of role for our team has been challenging and rewarding and as Camille Thomas, Community Development Worker at Space2, says: “Quick thinking and adaptability are essential. The system is changing weekly so you have to be ready to do something completely differently to what you did the week before. It’s an amazing job to be doing and I am really glad to be a part of it – supporting those most in need in our city.”
Space2, in partnership with The Old Fire Station, Zest, Health Watch and GIPSIL are now also running the Leeds Cares Volunteering Scheme in Gipton, funded by Community Fund C-19 Response money. This has been running since the 29th June, and similarly works with amazing volunteers to do shopping, pharmacy collections and food parcel deliveries, meeting demand in the area.
One of our recipients has explained what this support has meant to them during the crisis:
‘First of all I cannot put into words how much I have appreciated the help and support I have been given over the last few months, since this terrible pandemic encroached on all our lives. Being a type 1 diabetic with other related health issues, everyday can be a struggle, so having one of the volunteers helping with my basic shopping needs has been a godsend. They have even collected some vital diabetic medication for me on one occasion, so for me it has literally been a lifesaver. So a big shout-out for Sally, the team and ALL the volunteers out there. You are doing a great job’.
This support for the scheme is echoed in both sides, with one of our volunteers saying:
‘I’ve really enjoyed volunteering with the scheme over the last few months. When the Covid crisis was beginning, it was hard to know how to help those in need – so it was great to be helping by delivering shopping to those in isolation. I felt very supported by Camille and the organisers throughout the volunteering and I didn’t feel pressured at any point to do the shopping if I was busy’.
We’d like to say a big thank-you to our funders, partners at Orion and the volunteers who are supporting this project and our communities.