As the demand for Tenterden volunteers has changed significantly since the early days of the lockdown, when the need to support those particularly impacted by coronavirus was most acute, a new strategy for volunteers has been introduced.
With the easing of restrictions, some volunteers’ circumstances may have changed, for instance if they have returned to work. Now, on behalf of the Tenterden Volunteer Centre (TVC), the Town Council has sent out a letter and questionnaire to all those who have volunteered during the Covid crisis to establish their current situation and, if still interested, the type of volunteering they would be interested in.
On completion of the exercise, TVC will have identified all volunteers who still wish to be involved, the aim being to match them with existing or new opportunities, acting as a signposting service for all those still willing and able to help.
Latest figures from Tenterden’s volunteering community have shown demand for help tailing off, although requests are still being met.
Helping In Tenterden (HIT) has completed almost 1,000 ‘missions’ via its 250 volunteers and help desk team. HIT reports that the greatest demand has been for collection of prescriptions from those unable to leave home, followed by shopping for groceries and essentials, making befriending phone calls to the lonely and isolated, and signposting sources of financial help.
The peak demand for HIT’s services was in April, with more than 450 calls for help, although that has now significantly reduced - in July, it fell back to around 50.
Meanwhile, as the pandemic took hold, the Foodbank team experienced an enormous rise in demand. They made some 200 deliveries, particularly during the pandemic’s peak, when demand was so intense they were restricted to delivering three-day supplies of essential food instead of the normal five-day delivery.
However, a social media appeal for tins and packets was a huge success, and with the government introducing vouchers to replace free school meals, demand has now stabilised.
But the Foodbank has warned that there is likely to be a renewed increase in demand when the government phases out the furlough scheme, with the potential for job losses.
Says Town Clerk Phil Burgess: “The community has pulled together magnificently throughout the crisis. But we need to be ready for a potential resurgence of Covid-19, and refining our database of volunteers will be an important step in ensuring we have the right people in place to continue volunteering as and when it becomes necessary.”
For further information, please visit www.tenterdenvolunteercentre.org.uk