As an established volunteer brokerage and support service, Action Point Community Support Services (formerly called Keighley & District Volunteer Centre) jumped at the chance of supporting the district wide partnership initiative, and from the very start they have been overwhelmed by the fabulous examples of partnership working and the massive volunteer response that has been happening over the last 10 weeks.
Their team, consists of Diane, Zoe & Angela from Action Point, plus their team of volunteer ward coordinators Pip Gibson (KCT), Wendy Lewis, Jane Barrett & Cllr. Julie Lintern in addition to their admin/support volunteers Cheryl, Kelsey & Andrew. They are also working in partnership with Mary from CABAD Ilkley, Ray & William from Silsden Emergency planning group; and Diana from the Addingham Response Group – all of whom are vital in helping to place volunteers in the heart of their communities - exactly where they are needed.
This voluntary sector team works directly with the council’s Keighley Hub who also have a fabulous staff team led by Jo Beecroft and the Area Coordinators Office. Our joined up partnership approach is something they are very proud of in Keighley, as together, with their remarkable army of volunteers, they have been able to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable members of their community during lockdown.
Action Point’s main role has been to support the recruitment of the volunteers for the Keighley district, and almost 370 people signed up to help which is reflective of the amazing community spirit shown nationally. Their work has since included vetting, training and brokering volunteers into placements or specific roles and providing ongoing contact with volunteers to ensure they are happy in their roles and that they are receiving the support they themselves require.
Many of the volunteers they have recruited have been supporting the work of the Keighley Hub, by carrying out welfare checks to over 250 shielded members of the community or by being ready for action with requests, whether it be via outreach checks, collecting shopping, dog walking, dropping off food parcels, running errands or checking in once a week via the phone. They have been able to bolster the volunteer workforce of several voluntary sector organisations who have been reliant on extra volunteers throughout the lockdown and have been meeting needs directly through their own services, whether this has been delivering telephone befriending services for isolated members of our community, running a mobile book library or providing activities for kids.
Whilst the lockdown is now easing, their work is certainly not over and the volunteers are currently out and about in teams leafleting our ‘Care after Covid’ information sheets to ensure people know where to go to for support once the hubs are closed, people have returned to work and the informal groups are no longer active. They anticipate that Action Point will remain a vital support mechanism for both individuals and organisations as we enter the recovery stage of the pandemic.
Although there is still a lot of work to do, since it is Volunteers’ Week it is a nice time to reflect on the success of the initiative so far, and what better way than hearing about a volunteers’ experience... This is an account from their fabulous volunteer Wendy Lewis, who has been using her skills from her day job to coordinate the Hub’s Keighley East team of volunteers since the start of the programme:
My name is Wendy and I have recently started working with Carers’ Resource. I was just getting used to my actual job as a Supported Discharge Co-ordinator in BRI when the Covid pandemic began. I decided I would like to do my bit for the community so I volunteered for the Covid Response Programme. Soon after I was asked if I’d like to coordinate a team in Keighley East and have been doing this volunteer role ever since.
When the Government announced Lockdown the chaos began, the council had to change their way of working, as well as everyone else. The people of Keighley need help and support in one way or another, this could be from Shopping, welfare checks, dog walking the list is endless. With the help of several volunteers in my Ward, we check on people who are elderly, vulnerable. We check on the people every few days, as a lot of people are feeling lonely, and missing friends and family. People's mental health is being challenged, the longer this lockdown goes on. We can signpost people in the right direction for help and advice, and if we don’t know the answer we find someone who knows.
I have enjoyed volunteering with the team, in particular it has been nice meeting other people and getting to know different family circumstances. It gives me a lot of satisfaction helping people and knowing that I am part of something bigger and that we are all working together to make a difference.
Wendy’s sentiment of “being part of something bigger” is shared by so many and illustrates how together people can make a huge difference! On behalf of Action Point & the Keighley District Team, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to every single person who has stepped forward to volunteer – you truly are amazing and we feel privileged to be able to work with you all.