Rachel Howey is with Strategy and Policy at Wirral Council and shared their experience of coordinating and supporting voluntary effort to help vulnerable residents. You can find more Covid-19 resources here.
Individuals, organisations and businesses across Wirral have come together like never before to combat the effects of coronavirus on our community and to protect, support and care for our most vulnerable people.
Local infrastructure, back-office systems and online platforms were quickly established in response to guidance from Central Government, NHS England, as well as calls of goodwill from our residents, businesses, community, faith and voluntary organisations.
On 27 March, a new website, Wirral InfoBank (https://www.wirralinfobank.co.uk) was launched by the Council and partner organisations to help match residents needs with sources of local support.
The platform asks residents what help they need and has an easy-to-use search facility which shows what help is available near to where they live, simply by inserting their home postcode.
The website also streamlines the volunteering process, redirecting different types of volunteering offers to the appropriate partner organisations that the local authority has been working closely with during Covid-19:
Helping people and individuals to register to volunteer with local groups
Wirral InfoBank redirects local people to Community Action Wirral (CAW) who have been recruiting local volunteers to support the needs of vulnerable people in the community and provide a helping hand to charity organisations such as Age UK Wirral and Helplink Community Support. The response so far has been incredible, with over 400 local volunteers registered to selflessly give their time to be heroes in their community, making a positive difference and supporting others in need.
Allowing community, voluntary and faith groups to tell us how they might be able to help
The Council has been coordinating offers of support from community, voluntary and faith groups. To date, a total of 63 local services are available for members of the community who need it most. This includes easy access to emergency food support, help getting medication and social support to combat isolation, amongst other services.
Registering offers of help from local businesses, matching their expertise and resources with local need
Wirral InfoBank redirects local businesses to register their interest in volunteering or offers of donations/ supplies to Wirral Chamber of Commerce, who have been supporting businesses to match their offer to local needs.
Wirral InfoBank acts as the digital platform to unite partner agencies from across the borough and connects them to residents needs. An army of partner organisations and local volunteers are now in operation and responding quickly to support people in the community.
Over the past week, a number of these volunteers have been fundamental in pulling together food hampers, playing a significant role working with the Council and community food providers, as part of a new Council-led initiative which brings together the expertise of Feeding Birkenhead, Supporting Wirral, Wirral Foodbank and other third sector food providers to develop a whole system approach to coordinating efforts and centralising their bulk food collection and distribution operations at a new Emergency Food Hub, managed by Wirral Council.
Over 2,000 colleagues from across the council have also stepped up, signing-up to be redeployed if required and volunteer in areas that require the most support, to ensure that we as an organisation can continue to deliver the critical services that are vital to our community and most vulnerable residents.
Wirral’s volunteering process has been praised by the national volunteering coordinators. The Council’s dedicated Covid-19 telephone helpline (to support those who don’t have digital access) and email enquiries has also received a flurry of positive feedback from vulnerable members of the community, who have accessed support via Wirral InfoBank and the Emergency Food Hub. The feedback has highlighted how easy the platforms have been to navigate and the relief they felt receiving the support they desperately needed. None of this would be possible without the support of our partners and local volunteers, who have been instrumental so far and will continue to be invaluable throughout the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.