HUNDREDS of local people have come forward to offer their services to help Leicester’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Since the Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) website went live on 20 March, more than 1,200 people have registered as volunteers – offering to do essential tasks for people in their community, such as shopping, dog walking or posting mail.
There was more good news yesterday (Tuesday), as De Montfort University announced that it would be encouraging its staff to register as volunteers and support the city’s communities during the coronavirus crisis.
Work is now under way to start matching those who need help with a suitable volunteer, with the first volunteers due to be mobilised this week.
While the city council and VAL are delighted with the response from local people so far, it’s clear that more volunteers will be needed in the coming weeks and months.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The response from people in Leicester to our call for volunteers has been magnificent, but I would urge anyone who is healthy and well to come forward, if they haven’t already done so.
“We’re hoping to harness all the goodwill that’s in the city and create a database of people who are ready to help, when they’re needed.
“This might not be tomorrow, or next week, but it might be in several weeks’ time.
“The important thing is that we get the resources we’re going to need in place now, so that we’re as well prepared as we can be.”
Anyone who is healthy and feeling well can register as a volunteer. As well as doing practical tasks like shopping or dog walking, volunteers will also be needed to provide a friendly voice at the end of the phone to elderly or vulnerable people, who may feel isolated in their homes - and there will also be plenty of backroom roles that can be done without direct contact with others.
Those wishing to volunteer are asked to complete a simple online form, which will help co-ordinators allocate suitable tasks to each volunteer. The health and safety of volunteers, and of those who could be in contact with them, will be of paramount importance to the scheme’s organisers.
Kevan Liles, chief executive at Voluntary Action LeicesterShire said: “Voluntary Action LeicesterShire has been part of the local voluntary, community and social enterprise sector for over half a century. Our work has constantly evolved with the times, but always keeps local people at its heart.
“We know from calls we have already received that there are people across the city who want to volunteer to help others and this website will give them the opportunity to do so.
“Our mission is to change the lives of people in Leicester & Leicestershire for the better, and in these difficult times we welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with the City Mayor and his team.”
The city’s volunteering scheme is a partnership between Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Voluntary Action LeicesterShire and other voluntary sector partners.
It will complement the national volunteering scheme, NHS Volunteer Responders, which is using volunteers to support health and social care teams across the country.
More information about how to become a volunteer is available at www.volunteerleicestershire.org.uk
Anyone unable to register online can call VAL on 0116 257 5050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.