Written by David Burnhope, Covid 19 Volunteer
I have been volunteering at Community Action Derby ever since my retirement in 2009. I had previously worked as a Receptionist at Community Action for six years in full time employment.
When the Covid 19 virus first struck earlier this year, my regular schedule came to a very abrupt end. My volunteering at Community Action could no longer take place of course and my other activities with a rock choir and exercising at Derby Arena stopped.
However, the concept of volunteering has been installed into me and I felt the need to continue to try to do my bit in the current crisis.
I decided to volunteer with the Covid 19 team, which had been set up in Derby and designed to help the most vulnerable people within the city cope with the present crisis.
Initially, I was not called upon but within about 4 weeks, I received details of an individual with the aim of being a Telephone Befriender to them. This was followed by receiving the details of a second individual to contact shortly afterwards.
The specific aims are to ring the person on a regular basis and to have a chat with them and basically see if they are coping in the present circumstances.
Topics cover are not only their emotions but general chats about family, getting out (if possible) and of course the good old British favourite – the weather!
Obviously, if you have any concerns about them, they should be reported to the individual Ward Co-ordinators.
You need to be very much aware of confidentiality and safeguarding aspects, which means not prying for personal information and if it is volunteered to you, to treat it accordingly as confidential.
It is vitally important, to help them to remain optimistic about themselves and to look forward to the day when restrictions are eased and we can all move about more freely.
My experience so far is that the individuals are appreciative of my regular calls even if you are just a sympathetic voice at the end of the phone.
When the initial crisis is over, I am hoping to continue my volunteering with Community Action in a supporting capacity helping to assist those that are vulnerable and improve their health and wellbeing.
What is clear, is that once this crisis has passed what remains is still a major need to help vulnerable people in the city cope with their post-Covid 19 environment. Many of their issues may have pre-dated the pandemic.