Our news is collected from our network of members, and is updated regularly. We also present information and articles from other sources that might be relevant to your kind of group.
The British Red Cross has made available a free short online training course for volunteers in charities and community groups who are responding to Covid-19, such as shopping volunteers. The course takes under 30 minutes to complete and includes a short quiz at the end. Community groups and charities may like to use this as part of their training for their volunteers.
Voluntary and community sector organisations have a vital role working alongside NHS colleagues to support anyone who has a mental health problem. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, demand for mental health services is increasing. To help VCS organisations based in England continue to provide mental health services (or provide additional support) organisations can apply for a Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund grant.
Berkshire West CCG are opening a Primary Care Hub for local people with coronavirus symptoms who require clinical assessment in the community at the Walk-in Centre in Reading’s Broad Street Mall. The Hub is due to open its doors early next week (week beginning 6 April) and will offer specific patients quick and easy access to expert medical assistance. Full details of the hub and how it will operate will be on the CCG website www.berkshirewestccg.nhs.uk.
A round-up of information on mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak. -This week the government issued new guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus. It includes how you can connect with others during this time, helping those around you, looking after your physical wellbeing and managing your media and information intake. -Helplines: Carers Direct has a helpline open from 08:00 to 21:00 Monday to Friday call 03001 231053.
RVA has prepared Staying Safe whilst Volunteering: A Guide for Voluntary and Community Groups to assist established groups to deliver services safely during this time, with suggested best practice. The guide can be adapted to suit your services and then implemented in your group and shared with volunteers. If you would like any further support or to discuss how you can implement this best practice in your group, do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keeping in touch with people if you are feeling lonely and isolated has never been more important and this need will increase as the weeks pass. Existing befriending schemes are now switching from face-to-face to telephone-based befriending. Other voluntary, neighbourhood and community groups are looking into how to make the most of their volunteers to offer telephone befriending to their clients across Reading.
Healthwatch Reading have launched a Reading Prescription Delivery Scheme to ensure medicines can be delivered to isolated and vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis. Mandeep Kaur Bains, chief executive, said Healthwatch Reading and its advocacy service Reading Voice had suspended much of its usual work, but wanted to redeploy its staff to support vulnerable people and assist the NHS as it faced increasing pressure.
The next few weeks and months will be challenging times everywhere. With many people likely to have to stay at home it will be time for local volunteers to help out. If you need information, are interested in helping in your community or know someone that needs extra help here are some useful sources of information – we will add to this list as necessary:-
To support voluntary and community organisations during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable have opened this round of the Police and Property Act Fund early. From Monday 30 March, applications are being sought from organisations across the Thames Valley who are supporting our communities through this outbreak. £100,000 has been made available to help organisations in this round and the closing date for applications is 12:00 on Monday 20 April.
ABC to Read are now reading stories on their Youtube channel, and their stories will also be available on Facebook, Twitter and their website www.abctoread.org.