Meet Amanda, a redeployed volunteer for TCCA
WHILE new guidance from the Government has been shared, and we see some changes and restrictions lifted, there are people behind the scenes who are continuing to support Thurrock’s most vulnerable instead of their normal work.
Stronger Together, the partnership between Thurrock CVS, Thurrock Council and voluntary organisations, made swift decisions at the beginning of the pandemic to restructure their organisations and redeploy staff to the frontline.
For Thurrock CVS, that meant that their project officer Amanda, was tasked with rapidly setting up databases to log volunteers and resident requests to ensure residents were paired with verified, local volunteers who had had signed up to help along with recruiting volunteers. Looking after so many requests was recognised early and a bespoke system was needed quickly, so this became an overnight priority to keep everything organised.
Amanda, 52, Grays
“I suppose the first thing I started doing was creating a space for communication through social media which has led to a current total of 500 volunteers being signed up, verified and loaded to a database to support resident requests.
“The database I developed is being used by all staff working within the community support arm of TCCA to hold resident details, finances, resources and activity. Tailoring the database to meet the needs, it has organically grown to a unique system which I have adjusted and amended as the pandemic evolves.
“Rather than my usual role, which largely focuses on Impact Reports and Giving for Thurrock – The Mayor’s dedicated charity – I’m now on a rota where we pick up new requests for help from residents and then pass them to the right volunteers.
“Some would say our organisation was not ready to change how it worked so drastically. We usually work from the Beehive building in Grays. We work with lots of local organisations, some of which use our office space. We’re not flush with cash, we don’t have work mobiles and snazzy laptops that we could all just pick up and work offsite.
“It was a challenge in the beginning, when the need was arguably the greatest, for us to completely clear our work loads, work out what our new key priority areas of work were and then make sure we deliver and not let our residents down. But we did it. Our whole team was redeployed to assist with the relief effort, we received donated ICT equipment, or purchased it where we needed to, we worked so many ridiculous hours at home, into the evening and over weekends that our CEO had to start making us take a day off.
“I think it’s really easy to get swept up into helping. I found it difficult to stop working and relax taking time for myself and family because I knew there was another person I could have been helping.
“But now that we’ve got more processes in place, more people to lend a hand, and people are in more of a routine the workload has lessened, and I’ve managed to catch up with normal things!
“I’m so proud of the work we’ve done, and the work we’re continuing to do. Between the team, we have recruited more than 500 volunteers. 500! Can you imagine, 500 people in Thurrock said, I want to help and signed up. I think that’s really amazing.
“Not only that, but worked they have, we’ve completed hundreds of requests, by our reckoning we’ve helped arrange nearly 6,000 hours of voluntary time.
“Now our team is looking forward and working out a way to continue supporting people in the long term, while retaining all of our newly found community spirit. We’ve got some really exciting stuff coming up in the next few weeks – particularly during volunteers week at the beginning of June, so do keep your eyes peeled!
“Never before working at Thurrock CVS has there been a clearer demonstration of community strength, colleagues adapting and work impact shown. With uncertain times ahead and the lockdown ending unknown, we all forge ahead – still ready, still prepared, still standing for as long as we are needed’ Thurrock, really is Stronger Together’.”
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer with the Thurrock Coronavirus Community Action Group, please register here: tiny.cc/ThurrockVolunteer
If you’re unable to volunteer but would still like to help, please consider making a donation to Giving for Thurrock (GiFT) here: tiny.cc/ThurrockGift