Top Tips for Setting up a Community Support Group
Setting up a local community support group – Things to consider
- Before setting up your own group check and see if there are any other local forums or community groups and contact local community centres to see if they are already working on plans and if you can join with them. Established charities are likely to be publicising new volunteering roles soon as well so keep checking the Community Works Volunteer Centre
- Think hyperlocal, at a street level for example. People will be reassured to know they are being contacted and supported by those they know, by a face that they recognise.
- People’s health is absolutely central. Let everyone you are working with, both volunteers and others, know the most up to date information about Covid-19 from Public Health England and communicate any changes as quickly as possible. Make sure everyone takes all possible precautions to protect themselves and the wider community.
- Identify one or more people whose role will be coordinating the volunteers, who will be providing regular communication and who will have responsibility for maintaining accurate and up to date information. It may feel overly formal, but this way people will feel supported and you can make sure you are being safe and effective
- Consider how you will make sure that you are keeping vulnerable people, both volunteers and those they will be supporting, safe. Make sure everyone has a basic understanding of safeguarding and decide how you will manage issues such as keeping people’s personal information, managing any cash transactions, checking in with others or what to do if they are seriously worried about someone.
- Try and manage people’s expectations. This situation is likely to last for weeks, if not months, there might not be something to do straight away but both need and people’s ability to help others will certainly fluctuate. Also make sure that people know that they do not have to continue to volunteer if they are concerned or unsure at a later stage
- There’s a strong chance that you may be contacted by people who may not otherwise have volunteered, from all communities and all walks of life. We all want to feel we can do something useful. Staying accessible, promoting inclusion and diversity can offer you more access to potential volunteers and help everyone feel part of the community
- Obviously this will be a rapidly changing situation and make sure that volunteers know that they do not have to continue to volunteer if they are concerned or unsure at a later stage
- Think about what you can do to support volunteers who develop symptoms and need to self-isolate. It may be that there are other roles they can perform from home. Make sure that their contribution is recognised, check in with them if possible as they have given their time to you, if they want then do try and keep them up to date with your activities and if you can, signpost them to local or national support systems.
NEXT | Coronavirus (Covid-19): 20 March update