By Theo Tanser, Community & Timebanking Coordinator, Community Builder for Hele, Watcombe & Barton
During lockdown, community building becomes much more difficult as we are forced to use the phone to keep in touch with people in our communities and match people in need to volunteers that are close by and happy to help.
However, over the last few weeks I have been talking to many of the volunteers who have come forward to help out.
The GP vaccination station at the English Riviera International Conference Centre in Torquay was up and running on January 11th and since then thousands of people have been called up to have their jabs, but we could not have done it without the help of hundreds of volunteers.
We had had a tremendous response to our call for volunteers, with more than 400 people coming forward. The volunteers are being asked to help with marshalling indoors and outdoors, in shifts, from 8am until 6:30pm, Monday to Friday and sometimes Saturdays. This means slotting in 36 people per day into three shifts. After a few weeks at this we are now at a point where many people are doing regular weekly shifts.
I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit of the wonderful volunteers, many phoning back to say they can do more shifts, often outdoors in not such good weather – freezing temperatures last week. So a big thank you for offering your time!
Why do people volunteer? The feedback we have had has been that ‘it is so good to feel useful’, ‘it is so well run that it is a pleasure to do’, ‘great to be out of the house and among people,’, ‘I feel I need to do my bit’.
We all miss being part of a community in these lockdown times and by volunteering you are part of a community again. If there are volunteers that have not been contacted about the positions at the vaccination centre, there is always help needed through the Torbay Community Helpline, shopping for those that can’t get out, picking up prescriptions or doing some telephone befriending.
Call 01803 446022 to volunteer.