1,000 volunteers have been mobilised to support communities by The Buckinghamshire Volunteer Matching Service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Volunteer Matching Service is run by Community Impact Bucks in partnership with Buckinghamshire Council and The Clare Foundation. It was set up in Spring 2020 to support local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery periods and any local outbreaks that may arise.
The 1,000th volunteer placed by the Volunteer Matching Service joins the many other volunteers who have volunteered directly with groups and informally within their community.
Volunteers have been matched to a wide variety of roles across the county including:
- 128 volunteers to frontline COVID response like delivering PPE and medicine and helping in food banks.
- 180 volunteer telephone befrienders to make calls to elderly and disabled people or those required to shield.
- 85 volunteers to support vital charity and voluntary services e.g. Lindengate, a mental health charity that has been supporting NHS staff, key workers and people who have been bereaved.
- 86 car park marshals for vaccination sites across the county
- 74 COVID Test Distributer volunteers placed with Buckinghamshire Council to help door-to-door COVID-19 testing.
- 56 volunteers to help in our hospitals with Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.
Claire Hawkes, Service Director for Localities and Strategic Partnerships at Buckinghamshire Council said: ‘We are so lucky in Buckinghamshire to have such fantastic community spirit and strong relationships with our partners. Running through this is a real ‘can do’ attitude by everyone involved, enabling swift support to our residents when they needed it; we are really confident this will continue long after the pandemic.‘
Katie Higginson, Chief Executive of Community Impact Bucks, said: ‘This milestone reflects the incredible community response which we have seen over the past 12 months with volunteers providing essential help to local services and support networks within our communities.
As volunteers stepped forward to help, the Volunteer Matching Service was set up overnight and has made sure that this fantastic resource was used where it was most needed – whether to help deliver an emergency response or enable voluntary organisations to expand or set up new services.
Today’s achievement of ‘1000th match’ couldn’t have been done without our amazing dedicated matching team – the majority of whom are volunteers themselves and have helped run and develop the Service as it evolved through the year.‘
Helen Mee, Head of Charity Operations at The Clare Foundation said: ‘It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with colleagues from Community Impact Bucks and the Council to manage the Volunteer Matching Service over the last 12 months; and it seems fitting that we have reached the 1,000 match milestone almost a year to the day since the service was first mooted. It is very humbling to be part of the team and to hear first-hand what a difference our volunteers’ contribution makes. The passion and dedication of our volunteers is inspirational.‘
Steve Illman, a VMS volunteer who was initially matched to the role of COVID marshal at a vaccination site and is now a volunteer coordinator, said: ‘My interaction with the Volunteer Matching is two-fold – as a volunteer, it helped me find a role that I would have struggled to find and, as a volunteer coordinator, it is a reliable source of volunteers to keep the vaccination centres running so smoothly.
On a personal level I, like other volunteers I have spoken to, are glad to be helping in whatever we can but really feel the benefits too – from feeling good that you are helping in some way to providing us with a bit of structure to the week.‘
Further information about the Volunteer Matching Service, including how to register, can be found on the Community Impact Bucks website at https://communityimpactbucks.org.uk/buckinghamshire-volunteer-matching-service/. The experiences of several Volunteer Matching Service volunteers can be found on the Community Impact Bucks website at https://communityimpactbucks.org.uk/case-studies/ (select Volunteer Matching Service).
*Source of article : Press release from Buckinghamshire Council.