During the Coronavirus crisis, Our Plymouth has partnered with POP+, Together for Devon and Plymouth City Council to help with the Good Neighbours Scheme. The Good Neighbours Scheme is a space for volunteers, community groups and charities to come together and help some of Plymouth’s most vulnerable residents throughout this difficult time.
In total, 700 people have stepped forward to volunteer, however, the scheme currently has more volunteers than it does opportunities; this is something that is being mirrored throughout the country. And although this is really positive and a great position to be in, it also has its own frustrations.
By Emma Ridley
Plymouth Project Officer
People who have been offering to volunteer are being kept on a database. The elected councillor of the volunteer programme has been writing to them to thank them for their service and to also keep them in the loop, so they are aware of what is going on. If there are no available opportunities, they aren’t just being ignored, they receive regular updates and are notified if any positions become available.
Our Plymouth volunteers are helping with a mixture of services, including Age UK, British Red Cross, as well as providing welfare checks and doing food deliveries. Other members of the Good Neighbours Scheme are doing prescription collections and deliveries. Organisations that usually work alone have come together with a collaborative approach, which has been really powerful in the city.
Our Plymouth are now focusing on how they manage this moving forward; they are mindful that a lot of people currently volunteering will eventually return to their normal jobs. Martin Mills from Our Plymouth said: “We are hoping that when this pandemic comes to an end, there will be more citizens in the community who notice the positive impact of volunteering. People are starting to realise the benefits of their own happiness by doing something good for someone else.”
The Covid-19 pandemic created some massive challenges for Our Plymouth, as well as many other organisations. However, because of the RISE Trade Up programme, they have had the opportunity to re-visit their business plan, which has allowed them to re-direct funds online to help with their volunteer programme. Martin said: “The RISE programme has made it easy for us to pivot, because we have been able to adapt our cash flow and business plan. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of the Rank Foundation.”