How you can help others
If you would like to get involved in an initiative to help during the Coronavirus pandemic, please take a look at the information below.
Volunteer with local charities or national schemes
Lots of local organisations providing support are stretched and under pressure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but there are plenty of ways you can help. To search for opportunities near you visit Do-it, the UK’s national volunteering database, or get in touch with your local volunteer centre in England or Wales. If you’d like to volunteer your professional skills from home, take a look at Reach Volunteering – an organisation linking charities to people with the expertise they need to support them through these challenging times.
Due to the number of applications, registrations to the NHS Volunteer Responders recruitment initiative have been paused temporarily. However, more volunteers are expected to be needed so keep an eye on the NHS England website if you are interested in signing up.
You could also consider joining the British Red Cross Community Reserve Volunteers, a network which is safely supporting people in any way needed. As long as you are 18 or above, anyone can sign up – no specialist skills are needed.
If you are clinically trained and would like to volunteer to help, contact your local hospital trust or visit the NHS website.
Crafting for the NHS
Over the past couple of weeks, we have received a number of queries about whether WI members can craft items to support the NHS. The NFWI is very concerned at reports of shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other vital items of clothing and equipment and urges the government and NHS to make sure that all health and care staff get the right protection to carry out their vital roles.
It is important to note that many items of PPE are single-use and produced to strict specifications, so in many cases, crafted items would not be appropriate.
We have been in touch with the NHS and are aware that there is a need for scrubs in some areas of the country. This is not confined to NHS services, as other health and care services like care homes and domiciliary care services are increasingly using scrubs for their staff.
At present, these projects are being managed locally by various volunteer groups to respond to particular local need. The NHS is under significant pressure at the current time, and so we want to make sure that any contribution members make to support our NHS is timely, useful and responds to local need. We are aware that some health services are not in need of these items whereas others do still need supplies. As such, it would not be appropriate to launch a national appeal and we are instead encouraging members who wish to support their local health and care services to do this at a local level.
If you are aware that your local hospital or other health or care services are in need of these items and are calling on the community for help, please do organise this on a local level. If you are able to contact your local hospital, you can let them know your WI is available to support with making these items if necessary. Given the burden on NHS staff at this time, it is preferable for you to contact the charity arm of your local hospital who can advise how best to support them, or to make contact with volunteer groups already coordinating donations. If you would like to support a local care service or care home you can find nearby services by searching on the CQC website.
Look out for people in your community
Government advice is that you should only leave the house for one of four reasons, which include providing care or help to a vulnerable person. WI members are well connected in their communities, so you may already know who might need extra help in your area. If you are well and are not considered vulnerable, you could collect groceries, medication or other essential items for someone who is self-isolating or a key worker and leave them on their doorstep. Or, maybe you know of someone that could use your help placing an online order for groceries? Don’t forget to ask others for help as well if you need it.
It’s important to remember that even when helping others, make sure you are doing this safely and in line with Government advice.
Send a message of support
This time of isolation has had a serious effect on people in prison and social distancing has meant increased hours of solitary confinement of up to 23 hours a day in some instances. As many of you know, we have a number of WIs based in women’s prisons across the UK and we are very proud of our partnership with these prisons.
We would like to send messages of support and solidarity to our fellow members in our prison WIs alongside all the women and staff in every women’s prison across the country. If you would like to send a supportive message on behalf of your WI, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.