In Funding Stories, Reducing isolation & disadvantage

Project: Provide a Volunteer Matching Service deploying volunteers throughout Buckinghamshire in response to Covid-19.

Grant: £5,000.00

Fund: NET Coronavirus Appeal 

Community Impact Bucks are a charity supporting people and groups to get involved and make a difference in their local Buckinghamshire communities. They do this by offering expert advice and training, helping people to find volunteering opportunities, and helping charities and not-for-profit groups to get started, be effective and grow. They also have a lot of directly delivered community services, which focus on supporting those most in need–the elderly, vulnerable, and socially isolated.

The Volunteer Matching Service has allowed Community Impact Bucks to deploy volunteers in the areas that need them most in response to the pandemic.  The support from Heart of Bucks funded the project for four weeks, allowing over 110 volunteers to be matched in differing roles.

One such volunteer is Linda Franklin, who is a teacher and after she signed up as a volunteer on the Council’s website, the Buckinghamshire Volunteer Matching Service paired her with a pharmacy in Aylesbury to deliver medication to people unable to pick up their own prescriptions. She found her role very rewarding and enjoyed doing something different, but worthwhile.

The coronavirus situation has meant that many who would otherwise be able to pick up their own prescriptions cannot now do so. The role offered a very practical way of helping others, which Linda felt she was well-suited to: “Before going into teaching, I was in medical research, so I understand about how to handle medication. Because of my background, I saw this as a lower-risk volunteering opportunity than others might. The pharmacy, based in a local surgery, offers good support and provides all the necessary PPE. ”

Linda spent about four hours every other week delivering medication to patients in various parts of Aylesbury. She found it easy to fit around the work she still does as a teacher, despite schools being closed at the time. When asked how she felt about volunteering, Linda said: “An unexpected bonus is discovering parts of Aylesbury I didn’t know were there. But the most rewarding aspect is the positive feedback I get from the people I deliver to – I am often greeted with a lovely smile and genuine thanks for a simple delivery. This is a really well-organised chance to do something different to what I’d normally do.”

Over 1,000 people registered as potential volunteers through Buckinghamshire Council’s form and were mobilised across the county wherever needed.

Community Impact Bucks undertook screening calls with each volunteer who completed the form, gathering key information such as their health status, their DBS status and their volunteering preferences. The service then placed the volunteers in a pool, ready to be placed in roles as required by charities, community groups and statutory organisations across Buckinghamshire in need of extra people power to respond to the covid-19 crisis.