Volunteers are urgently needed to support citizens across the city, following a surge of calls to the We Are Bristol helpline during lockdown.
The council’s free service is on hand to offer support to those who need it most, particularly during the nationally-imposed lockdown, which is expected to be in place until December 2.
In response to an influx of calls for support, more people across Bristol are being sought to sign up as volunteers to help those who are vulnerable, lonely, and self-isolating, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the Can Do Bristol volunteer network, volunteers help residents with their shopping, to pick up medication/prescriptions, to ‘befriend’ those in isolation (via a weekly friendly phone-call), online/tech support and help with dog walking.
Volunteers are needed across the city, but particularly in these areas:
- Central Bristol
- Frome Vale
- Lawrence Hill
- Lawrence Weston
- Westbury on Trym
Volunteers who can speak in Somali, Polish, Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Chinese or Kurdish, as well as people who can sign in British Sign Language, are also urgently required.
Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Communities, Equalities and Public Health, said: “Now, more than ever, a little help can go a long way. During the lockdown period, we’re all asked to stay at home and minimise social contact to protect Bristol from COVID-19 – but for many people, this is having a detrimental impact on their day to day lives.
“While we really must follow the guidelines and stay at home, it is permitted to leave in order to provide vital voluntary support. Our Can Do Bristol volunteers play an integral role in our city, going above and beyond to support Bristol’s communities, and we need more people to sign up to ensure no one is left struggling alone.
“If you can spare just a few hours of your time, please sign up to be a Can Do Bristol volunteer today and help those who need it most.”
Darin Hedges, Citizen Service Manager at We Are Bristol, said: “As expected, we are receiving increased calls for help through the We Are Bristol helpline under the new lockdown restrictions. For those who are at high risk from coronavirus, and considered ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ by the National Health Service, staying at home is vital to their safety, but realistically poses a risk of loneliness and an impact on their mental health.
“We’re proud to have had over 600 volunteers give up their time to help since the first lockdown in March, and now need to recruit more local people who can spare a few hours and make a huge difference to people’s lives. Volunteering offers a great opportunity to meet and support people across the city and ‘give back’ at a time where kindness and generosity brings us together.
“You can sign up online through the Can Do Bristol website at https://candobristol.co.uk/activity/c19-winter. After your pledge is received you will be sent a link to an online registration form. Once we’ve received your form we will process applications focussing on priority areas and tasks. We really appreciate your patience and support.”
Charlotte Senior, who has been volunteering for Can Do Bristol since April, said: “I’ve learnt a lot about my local area and neighbours as a Can Do Bristol volunteer. It’s been so nice to connect with others and support them through these challenging times.
“If you want to form new relationships and support your community I would urge you to sign up. I’ve been able to help with a range of tasks from weekly shopping and telephone befriending whilst also working full time so it’s flexible. It helped to give me a purpose whilst feeling quite helpless about everything else going on around me.”
You can sign up to become a Can Do Bristol volunteer here.
If someone you know of needs help, they can call the free We Are Bristol helpline Hotline on 0800 694 0184 (Open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 2pm).
Find out more about the We Are Bristol helpline here.
Follow Can Do Bristol on Twitter @CanDoBristol.