Medway Voluntary Action Response - COVID-1919-Mar-2020
Government advice about and response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing daily and, as we are now all being advised to avoid social contact and work from home where possible; we are subsequently beginning to see a widespread financial and operational impact on the VCS in Medway and the people we support.
Medway Voluntary Action know that the VCS has a key role to play in supporting local people and communities to deal with the consequences of this pandemic. We are, therefore, rapidly mobilising plans to ensure that we can maintain effective information sharing, peer support and advocacy for the sector to statutory bodies and funders.
Our role in supporting people and communities has never been more important and, to borrow the ethos of the VCS Leaders Network,
‘Together we can harness the full power of our network to achieve something quite remarkable’.
So here is what MVA are doing:
- We will be supporting the VCS to remain connected by hosting weekly online video conferencing sessions for organisations to come together to problem solve, share resources and feedback on the issues they are dealing with – this vital information will be shared with those in the statutory sector also intelligence gathering. Look out for your invitation to join these sessions soon.
- We will continue to act as a single point of resource and support for the sector and are encouraging the sector to send us information they think would be useful to share (including closure to groups and activities) so that we can publish this information across our digital platforms for all to see. You can send any information to firstname.lastname@example.org to reach our 1000+ subscribers.
- We have created a dedicated Coronavirus webpage (https://www.mva.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19) that will be regularly updated over the coming days and weeks. Keep watching this page for updates and contribute content/news if you have something additional to share that will help your VCS peers.
- We know that these extra-ordinary times require us to find extra-ordinary ways of cooperating with each-other, sometimes requiring us to put aside normal tasks and duties whilst the crisis lasts, and to respond at multiple levels. We are therefore in discussions with various statutory and partner agencies, some with statutory responsibilities to specific aspects of the crisis, to agree co-ordinated responses to supporting vulnerable people over the coming months. More information to follow – and contact us if you’d like to join these conversations.
It is gratifying to know that a huge number of people concerned about the impact of COVID-19 and wanting to help, and we will:
- Act as a single point of contact to help co-ordinate and communicate volunteering updates and opportunities – working in partnership with as many partners as possible
- Provide a targeted marketing campaign (social, digital and PR) to promote this support – to residents, organisations and self-organised communities (e.g. local Facebook groups). We’ll also liaise with other agencies to help promote key messages (e.g. Medway Council, CCG, Public Health)
- We’ll be contacting all of our local VCS groups and organisations to explain how you can promote your volunteering needs/opportunities using the Medway Volunteer Network platform
- We are creating a dedicated webpage for Coronavirus volunteer response - recruiting and capturing details for possible volunteers, linking them to opportunities via the MVN bulletin – so please let us have your information to publish.
- Provide resources for VCS organisations and local residents that might help respond to unexpectedly large number of volunteers signing up (e.g. free online safeguarding training, boundaries guidance) and also provide ‘light touch’ support for community groups who are self-organising
We are also aware of the risk of abuse, where those who prey upon the vulnerable see this as an opportunity for further gain, so we are mindful that safeguarding must also be a major priority. We will work together with the statutory sector to consider adequate processes to help you to protect those vulnerable people.
- We are ramping up our befriending offer to deliver telephone befriending with our partners Age UK Medway and Carers First and equip the service with the resources to respond to what we anticipate will be a huge increase in referrals as our most vulnerable are required to self isolate.
- We have postponed all our events and training for March and April and you will have received details about this if you had booked on to anything.
- We will of course continue to be available for advice and support via email and telephone and encourage everyone to give us their opinions and suggestions on how we can best serve the sector over the coming months.
- Finally, the CEO and Trustees of Medway Voluntary Action, have decided upon the following arrangements:
- Although there is no discrete funding for this work, MVA staff will be redeployed into these roles for the duration of the Pandemic response.
- To adhere to government advice, many of our staff team will begin to work from home from next week – but to maintain phone coverage and some direct service delivery, we will have reduced staff cover in our office.
- Wherever possible, MVA service delivery will probably need to be done virtually
We will keep you updated should these arrangements need to change.
Jane Howard, CEO
19th March 2020