Local people have come forward in Leicester to offer their services to help the city’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The group Voluntary Action Leicestershire launched their website on 20th March, and since then, 1,200 people have registered themselves as volunteers. These people are offering to undertake essential tasks for others in the community who struggle to do these tasks themselves due to being high risk. Essential tasks include things such as collecting mail, and dog-walking.
De Montfort University announced that it would be encouraging its staff to volunteer too. Supporting the local community has always been a large focus of the university with their current volunteering schemes.
Volunteers are now being matched to those that they will be assisting, and the first volunteers will be sent out sometime this week.
Leicester City Council say they are very pleased with the response so far, but they still need more volunteers to help out.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The response from people in Leicester to our call for volunteers has been magnificent, but I would urge anyone who is healthy and well to come forward, if they haven’t already done so.
“We’re hoping to harness all the goodwill that’s in the city and create a database of people who are ready to help, when they’re needed.
“This might not be tomorrow, or next week, but it might be in several weeks’ time.
“The important thing is that we get the resources we’re going to need in place now, so that we’re as well prepared as we can be.”
The requirements for signing up as a volunteer are simple ones: if you’re healthy, feeling well, and willing to do practical tasks like shopping and dog walking, or more social tasks such as having a chat over the phone with isolated members of the community, then you are eligible. There are also roles behind-the-scenes with limited contact with others.
Those who want to volunteer are asked to complete an online form, which will help to allocate suitable tasks to each volunteer. The scheme’s organisers say that the health and safety of volunteers, and of those who could be in contact with them, will be of “paramount importance”.
Kevan Liles, chief executive at Voluntary Action LeicesterShire said: “Voluntary Action LeicesterShire has been part of the local voluntary, community and social enterprise sector for over half a century. Our work has constantly evolved with the times, but always keeps local people at its heart.
“We know from calls we have already received that there are people across the city who want to volunteer to help others and this website will give them the opportunity to do so.
“Our mission is to change the lives of people in Leicester & Leicestershire for the better, and in these difficult times we welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with the City Mayor and his team.”
The city’s volunteering scheme is a partnership between Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Voluntary Action LeicesterShire and other voluntary sector partners.
It will complement the national volunteering scheme, NHS Volunteer Responders, which is using volunteers to support health and social care teams across the country.
More information about how to become a volunteer is available at www.volunteerleicestershire.org.uk
Anyone unable to register online can call Voluntary Action LeicesterShire on 0116 257 5050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Sam Ellison