Helping your community during the coronavirus crisis

student volunteering at a foodbankEveryday life has seen rapid changes in recent weeks and the Marjon community has transferred from face-to-face to an online learning community.

As a community our values at are the heart of what we do, and our ‘humanity’ is particularly prevalent at the moment with many of our students and staff wanting to do something to help others at this time.

Marjon Futures have compiled a list of ideas on how you can be involved in the fightback against the coronavirus, some of which can be done remotely.

Please remember to consider the health of you, your family and the wider community when undertaking any of these options. The Government has set out guidance in relation to staying at home; minimising social contact is vital to combating this virus. That said, the Government guidance from the 23 March enables volunteers on organised schemes to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

  1. Volunteer for the NHS

So far more than 500,000 people have responded to the Government’s call for NHS Volunteer Responders that will support the 1.5m people in England who are at most risk from the virus to stay well. Those signed up include several Marjon students and staff.

The roles include:

  • Community Response volunteer: Involves collecting and delivering shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating.
  • Patient Transport volunteer: Supports the NHS by providing transport to patients who are medically fit for discharge and ensuring that they are settled safely back into their home.
  • NHS Transport volunteer: Involves transporting equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites.
  • Check-in and Chat volunteer: This role provides short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.

To find out more and sign up: https://www.goodsamapp.org/nhs

  1. Donate blood

Hospitals still need people to donate blood during this crisis, if you are able and willing to then this is a way to literally save someone’s life. The current guidance on their website is: “You can still travel to donate. Giving blood and platelets is essential to the NHS and vulnerable patients. Please keep donating”.

See: https://www.blood.co.uk/

  1. Supporting and communicating with friends and family

Don’t forget the support you could be giving to your friends and family at this time. If you have moved back home, then you could help with tasks such as cleaning and cooking. If you have younger siblings being educated from home, then you could help with this.

During this time a lot of people will feel lonely and you could reach out via the phone or online. Reach out to your friends and family during this time and keep in regular contact with them, please don’t under-estimate how much you can help those close to you.

  1. Your local food bank

A simple way you could help is by donating items to your local food bank.

They need a supply of non-perishable items such as:

  • Breakfast cereals, soup, pasta, rice, pasta sauce, tinned beans, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit, tea, coffee, sugar, biscuits and snacks.
  • Non-food items like shampoo and nappies are also needed.

Food banks often have donation boxes or stations in supermarkets. To donate to the Plymouth Foodbank, see here: https://plymouth.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-food/

Their urgently needed items are: Tinned meat, long-life fruit juice, tinned tomatoes, size 6 nappies, shampoo, shaving foam and razors, tinned fruit.

  1. Mutual Aid Groups

Across the country thousands of volunteer groups have sprung up to offer help to people that are self-isolating. Help offered to them includes delivering groceries, picking up prescriptions, dog walking and talking over the phone / online.

Some groups have taken to printing off an information leaflet that is dropped through people’s letter boxes giving them the details of how to register with their local group if they have to self-isolate.

To find a group local to you click here: https://covidmutualaid.org/local-groups/

Many of these groups also have a presence on Facebook.

In Plymouth a similar group has also been set-up by Plymouth Labour Community Action, find out more and sign up here: https://www.lukepollard.org/coronavirus/

Remember you may also need help yourself at some point, you can register with these Mutual Aid groups not just to help but also to receive help should you have to self-isolate.

  1. Volunteer with the British Red Cross or FareShare

You can sign up to volunteer as a Community Reserve Volunteer with the British Red Cross. This organisation, like the Mutual Aid groups and others, are trying to set-up a network of volunteers to be able to help the emergency services as the crisis develops. Tasks might include supporting your community by sharing public health messages, connecting with others safely and helping provide basic supplies.

You can find out more and sign up here: https://reserves.redcross.org.uk/

FairShare is a charity aimed at relieving food poverty and reducing food waste in the UK and they are also seeking volunteers at this time to help with their efforts. See: https://fareshare.org.uk/volunteer/outbreak/

  1. Share your skills online

You may want to utilise your skills online, for example, many teachers are offering free online tutoring during this time. Do you have skills and knowledge that you could share? For example trainee Speech and Language Therapists are offering online consultations, while trainee teachers are offering online tuition.

  1. Something not coronavirus-related

If you are stuck at home and you want to do something completely unrelated to the Coronavirus then how about helping the Rainfall Rescue Project?

The UK has rainfall records dating back 200 years, but the vast majority of these are in handwritten form and can’t easily be used to analyse past periods of flooding and drought.

The MET Office has scanned 65,000 handwritten sheets and all you have to do is visit a website, read the scribbled rainfall amounts and enter the numbers into a series of boxes. Even just a couple minutes helps.

Give a few minutes of your time here: The Rainfall Rescue Project

And don’t forget… Volunteering Awards

Remember if you are volunteering then you can register for and earn your Marjon Futures Volunteering Awards.

We have a 50-hours award and a 150-hours award that you can work towards on the Futures Online platform. By completing your 50 hours you will be rewarded with a Student Volunteering Hoodie and certificate.

By logging your hours spent volunteering you can also work towards an additional 100 hour certificate, officially recognising the valuable time you have spent helping others and on completion of an additional 100 hours you will receive a V150 pin badge and certificate.

If you complete a smaller number of hours then Futures can still give you a certificate for the hours that you have achieved.

Any queries please email Faye on Fhatherley@marjon.ac.uk or futures@marjon.ac.uk


Thank you to Terry Doyle of the Marjon Futures team for writing this.

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