Covid-19 spikes membership by <500% 

Oct 23, 2020

Rapid response by W3RT CVS team spiked its membership numbers, after Covid-19 support group weekly forums and daily networking increased dramatically overnight. 

Resources were doubled at W3RT, after its CVS service increased its outputs, and more support was deployed across Three Rivers areas. The first “Covid-19 support group Forum” opened its online-doors initially to just Three Rivers, but soon grew across Watford. Pre pandemic, W3RT CVS ran a range of forums for the Voluntary Sector volunteer groups. These cover topics to help with the usual day-to-day support, mainly consisting of training, fundraising events in big halls, guest speakers, referral pathways and big gatherings at volunteering fairs. 

Then the pandemic struck, and all needs changed overnight… 

Covid-19 Support group Forums were run weekly, phone call support from CVS was provided daily for voluntary sector groups and organisations to attend – all of which were made up of existing groups with limited resources, or new and emerging clusters of volunteers forming new groups with no idea how to move forward officially, but just desperately needed to continue providing for the local community members in need.  

To begin with, 4-6 attendees were on the Covid-19 Forum. But as time went on, word spread, and more and more attendees turned up to join the forum as the need for rapid response became apparent. Membership then spiked, with an increase of <500%. 

Inside the forums, the CVS team provided rapid networking to meet the needs of forum content, and deliver solutions through learned experiences others were paving the way daily on: 

  • Food deliveries,  
  • Prescription picks up,  
  • Someone to talk to,  
  • Support vulnerable families & people in the community with wellbeing packs and activities,  
  • Free school meals to kids,  
  • Helping key workers and recognising the work they have been doing in the community, 
  • Signposting on to further support where needed.

 

Forums started off as places to “share success stories”, but quickly moved to collaboration and shared resources, and extended out to other support available. W3RT CVS team connected people wherever possible, challenged with the following, achieved through regular calls and building up strong relationships: 

  • Understanding each groups local communities and neighbourhoods at a much deeper level now – membership allows for this deepening over time, more quality service and an understanding of what type of support is specifically required, for example: 
    • Funding application – to help with the “how”, such as a place that has existing resources and facilities to tap in to,  
    • Food resources – for example a “safe” space to run the service out of, 
    • Contacts – to help fill in any “gaps” that were springing up as a result of government guidelines,  
  • Further resources – such as materials or training,  
  • Volunteer support.

Community beneficiaries 

After the Covid-19 support group was well stablished, W3RT CVS then went on to focus support at a more granular level, by providing the groups with the following: 

  • Forum content – live tailoring of agenda to the needs at that hour 
  • Daily calls to support the forums in the interim with contacts and networking   
  • Updates from network of guidance from HHC, TRDC, WBC  
  • Training on “Volunteer Management” and “Wellbeing of Volunteers”  
  • Funding application guidance and tailoring on the “how” (collaboration) 
  • Signposting on guidance and food resources  
  • GDPR & Safeguarding guidance  
  • Helping “new reactionary set ups” become more “established” with governance advice and guidance 

 

CCH Moor Park and Eastbury Covid Mutual Aid added the following advice, lessons learned and thank you to: 

“The overall support we have received from W3RT has been invaluable; making sure we really “know” our communities and neighbourhoods by liaising with W3RT CVS has been key. The weekly COVID Zoom calls that Alison and her team have arranged over the last few months has offered support in a variety of ways. They have kept us informed about help and support available to us, which in turn has meant we have been able to react quickly to help our local community, and also keep our own volunteers up to date and offer them support too, such as maintaining good mental health. They have enabled us to stay connected with other local mutual aid groups, so that we have been able to help each other with ideas and offer practical support during these difficult few months. We would like to thank all the volunteers of the COVID Support groups in the community.”  

  

CSG Chorleywood Corona Support said: 

“Within a few weeks, I was contacted by the W3RT(CVS) team who got in touch to offer their support and set up weekly Zoom calls. This was a lifeline, enabling all community groups who had emerged in neighbouring towns and villages to unite. This gave us an invaluable opportunity to connect, share ideas, ask questions and receive specialist advice on a number of social issues and situations we were facing.”   

 

In conclusion, groups have reported they have learnt massively from alliance, coming together in times of need, and collaborating to “get the job done.”

 

#OneCommunity 

To join the next Forum titled "Community Engagement" on the 4th December, email cvs@w3rt.org


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