Vale of Glamorgan Council Leader praises the efforts of volunteers during coronavirus pandemic
Vale of Glamorgan Council Leader Neil Moore has praised volunteers for the contribution they are making during the coronavirus outbreak
Today marks the start of Volunteers’ Week and never has such a group been more appreciated than in these testing times.
The Council has been working in partnership with Glamorgan Voluntary Service (GVS) to support those most in need since the virus struck.
And Cllr Moore spelled out in no uncertain terms just how valuable a role they are playing in the Vale’s response to the pandemic.
“I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to GVS and the raft of people volunteering across the Vale during the coronavirus crisis,” he said.
“It has been incredible to see the level of community spirit on display throughout the County. Volunteers have long played an important part in our civic life and the Council has always recognised the importance of this. However, over the past few months, this activity has been taken to a new level.
“The work being done by volunteers is making a real difference to people’s lives. It is also allowing the Council to focus efforts on some of our most vulnerable residents. This kind of partnership working means we can support many, many more people.
“It is the simple but vital support provided by volunteers such as help with shopping, food and befriending that will be so important as the Covid-19 pandemic progresses. We do not yet know what the future holds, or how our lives will change as a result of the coronavirus, but it is certain that the work of volunteers will continue to be extremely important.
“It is incredibly uplifting to see so many people come forward to help support vulnerable friends, family, neighbours, and in many cases those that they have never met but who simply need assistance.
“Volunteers, alongside key workers from organisations such as the Council, really are heroes.”
GVS has played a vital part in establishing the Council’s Vale Heroes directory by making available a list of third-party services.
Vale Heroes is a searchable database that helps connect individuals in need of support with those offering it.
People can register if they need assistance with grocery shopping or medicine collection, for example, as can individuals or groups able to help with such tasks.
The Council’s Crisis Support Team have also been working closely with GVS and Cardiff & Vale Age Connects, directing people to the charity where appropriate, who then make connections with organisations that can help.
Currently, numerous people are volunteering across the Vale, with over 2000 coming forward since March when the Covid-19 crisis hit.
A number of neighbourhood groups have sprung up across the Vale to help vulnerable members in their communities, while those already established are stepping up activities.
GVS are supporting these groups by offering advice on a range of matters, such as how to keep services safe, and also putting them in touch with local charitable organisations like Cardiff & Vale Age Connects, Dinas Powys Voluntary Concern, Penarth Helping Hands and more.
They also regularly update a list of available Covid-19 funding, have developed online surveys to gauge the impact of lockdown and offered phone support to those aged under 65 seeking advice on available services in their area.
The Council has given GVS a £2,000 grant to support local volunteers, which has gone on to help fund a number of groups, including: Bro Radio, Barry Round Table, Barry Waterfront Residents’ Association, Sully Village Group, Llandow Village Hall and Oakfield PTA.
A new Vale Heroes Crisis Fund has also been established to offer grants of up to £3,000 to community groups, the voluntary sector, town and community councils and eligible businesses.
This money can be put towards the cost of initiatives within the Vale that help members of the community severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In recognition of their efforts, signs have been installed across the County expressing thanks for the contribution volunteers are making.
Rachel Connor, GVS Chief Executive Officer, said: “In the current public health crisis, volunteers are changing and supporting an incredible amount of people’s lives, but none of us do this alone and it would not be possible without the ongoing support of our partners and the large number of community groups and organisations recruiting and supporting those volunteers.
“Without this army of volunteers, supported by a range of local voluntary organisations, many people would be without food, without medication and without information. The voluntary sector has shown its resilience in a time of crisis and helped to meet the needs of those most vulnerable with lightning speed.
“We recognise together we are stronger and volunteers have allowed us to create a caring society in a time of crisis - it’s the smallest gestures that make the biggest impact, and together we are making a difference.”