The teams at Compass Support have been paying tribute to the special and wonderful volunteers that continue to give their time and energy to helping those in need. Volunteers Week takes place 1-7 June every year and is the chance to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to our communities and say thank you.
As part of Volunteers Week 2023, teams at The Sanctuary, Castle Vale have been recognising those who are dedicated to supporting the residents of Castle Vale and the wider community.
A special social media campaign showcased the efforts and contribution of volunteers in helping to deliver community activities across Castle Vale and surrounding areas.
Health and Wellbeing Project Lead for Compass Support, Leonie Hammond, said: “Our volunteers are simply incredible, they give valuable time each week to deliver activities and assist others to build new friendships and learn new skills.”
Volunteering has several key benefits for individuals, including better mental health, improved self-esteem and a greater sense of wellbeing.
If you would like to know more about volunteering opportunities with Compass Support please call 0121 748 8111.
Words & pics by Ed King / Video by Paul Withers – Erdington Local Broadcast Unit
There has not been much to celebrate over the past few weeks, as the world has been put on pause to stem the spread of COVID-19.
But the silver lining of the coronavirus crisis can be found in the volunteer groups that have sprung up all across the country – grassroots organisations who have mobilised friends, families, and neighbours to support the most vulnerable in their communities.
And as national campaigns such as Volunteers’ Week have been highlighting across the UK, this community spirit and endeavour is playing an increasingly vital role in our country’s social care network.
The Erdington Community Volunteers began as a Facebook group, an online act of goodwill set up by local resident Jo Bull – launching via social media on the day lockdown began.
Two months later and they now have over 800 online members, with an active team of over 70 local people helping the official Erdington COVID-19 Taskforce deliver important outreach campaigns. What started as a simple gesture has become a fundamental support network for thousands of Erdington residents.
“There was a nationwide group of mutual aid groups at the time,” explains David Owen, who came onboard to help co-ordinate the Erdington Community Volunteers as their membership grew, “and a centralised group were asking for each community to create their own, in essence.
“We had 500 members (online) in our first 24 hours and it’s grown consistently since then, so we’ve got just over 800 members now. We wanted a platform for people who wanted to help, to meet up with those that needed help.”
There has been an immediate and constant programme distributing food and essential household items across the constituency, with around 20 Erdington Community Volunteers delivering daily care packages to those who have needed to self-isolate.
“The coronavirus put people into lockdown who normally live completely independent lives,” explains David, “they weren’t used to dealing with established organisations.
“So, we filled that gap, if you like, between what are the statutory requirements and what are the requirements during COVID-19.
“Some of the national programme were slow to respond, in all fairness, and we able to very very quickly identify people who needed help and get that help to them.”
But whilst playing an important role in the community, especially during the coronavirus crisis, the Erdington Community Volunteers has become a community within itself – as many members discover unexpected positives from the time and effort they have given to the group.
“It’s good. It’s a good way to break up the day and it gives you something to do during lockdown. I’ll have to fit it in between everything I’m doing, that’s restarting after lockdown, but I can definitely see myself doing more of it. It’s good for me; it’s good for other people. It’s good to help.”
“For many of the volunteers it has been an extremely positive experience,” continues David, “it’s given them an opportunity to help when there was a sense of helplessness.
“They wanted to help, they wanted to help the community, but they didn’t know how. They didn’t know the established organisations that existed. This platform, this group, has given them that opportunity.
“You see more affluent areas, such as Sutton Coldfield or Moseley, with a charitable trust – I’m not saying the (Erdington) Community Volunteers will become that, but with the networking that’s happened I’d like to see something like that established within Erdington – and to see that as our legacy.
“If anyone wants to help, and we are still desperately looking for volunteers, please get in touch with us via Facebook or by emailing email@example.com“
Erdington Community Volunteers
To visit the Erdington Community Volunteers Facebook group, where you ask for help and support during the coronavirus crisis – or offer your services as a volunteer, visit www.facebook.com/groups/625073991557017
At the start of Volunteers Week (June 1-7) the primary school worker is now urging others to follow her example and reap the ‘amazing’ benefits it brings.
“Should people volunteer? Absolutely,” she said. “Because you are not only doing good for others but for yourself too. My self-esteem and confidence have increased massively since I started volunteering and I’ve made some amazing friends and met some lovely people.e
“At the beginning of the lockdown I felt very isolated with my family living far away from me – but my volunteering has changed that. I now feel uplifted as a person. I don’t think I would have survived the lockdown without my volunteering – it saved me.”
Donna, who has spent the last three months helping to pack and distribute food parcels from a base in Ladywood, points to the collective efforts and unity of those working to support those in need.
“It’s like your own little community,” she said.
“One minute you’ve got these strangers standing behind you, the next minute they’re becoming your friends.
“You just start talking to people and form connections, everyone is there to help each other, they are invested in the collective effort. Everyone is united.”
Erdington Local Community Response was founded by local woman Jo Bull. It has been delivering hundreds of food parcels every week to homes across the district and supporting people through befriending services and via social media with information and resources shared on its Facebook page.
David Owen, who co-ordinates activity for the group, said the support it has received has been ‘eye-watering’ but with certain lockdown measures now being eased and people returning to their day jobs, volunteers are needed to sustain the help that’s being delivered to people.
“The take up of volunteers in Erdington has been immense with over 70 people giving up their time to pack, shop and deliver for those in need,” he said.
“But as these people return to work, we need a new wave of volunteers to get us through the weeks and months ahead.
“So, if anyone out there, who lives in the North Birmingham area, can spare some time to help our group over the coming weeks we’d really love to hear from them. Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org”
Erdington Local Community Response is a member of the Erdington COVID19 Taskforce – a network of local community organisations and individuals working together to support the district’s vulnerable, isolated and at risk during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Taskforce is facilitated by Witton Lodge Community Association. Chief Officer, Afzal Hussain, commented: “Volunteers are the lifeblood of organisations like ours and their efforts across the constituency in support of organisations like Erdington Local Community Response has been truly inspiring.
“We have also benefited from their incredible and selfless work in getting food parcels packed and delivered to the most vulnerable members of our community during the lockdown.
“Without their support a lot of the work that has been achieved would not have been possible. We are all very grateful to every single one of our amazing volunteers.”
To visit the Erdington Local Community Response (to COVID-19) Facebook group, where you ask for help and support during the coronavirus crisis – or offer your services as a volunteer, visit www.facebook.com/groups/625073991557017