Sheffield’s voluntary sector continues to rise to the challenges posed by COVID-19

Sheffield’s voluntary sector has shown a rallying spirt in tackling the challenges faced by the coronavirus and groups are working together to help the city survive.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 9:03 am
Updated Friday, 24th April 2020, 9:11 am

Charities have joined forces to provide practical and emotional support to people hit hardest by COVID-19 in the first month since the Prime Minister announced a ‘lockdown’ across the UK.

Hosted by Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS), the new network of over 30 organisations enables the sector to coordinate deliveries of food, provide support for people who are vulnerable or struggling as a result of COVID-19, and share critical public health information with residents and the city’s decision makers.

A key part of the response has been to make sure people feel supported locally, and that they have somewhere to go to ask for help when they need it. The charities have worked together to produce a flyer featuring information tailored to different communities across Sheffield, using pictures and straightforward messages to reach a wide audience.

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A spokesman said: “The response from the city has been fantastic, with Sheffielders stepping up to the mark to help. Over 1,000 new volunteers have signed up to support the city’s VCS response through VAS. The charity has set up a new online portal to enable community hub organisations to access its database of volunteers directly, with in-kind development work by Sheffield-based software company Tribepad and implementation support from Sheffield College.”

Many organisations have adapted or completely repurposed existing systems and approaches , including moving to provide all advice and service provision via phone and internet.

Maddy Desforges, VAS chief executive, said: “It’s a sign of the strength of Sheffield that people are keen to offer support through these difficult circumstances and help out in their community.

The voluntary sector often know people in the community, they’ve got relationships and they support people day to day. Through this network we are harnessing that capacity and that local knowledge, and we’re also making sure there is a two-way conversation with the institutions coordinating our emergency response.”

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