MUCH NEEDED REKINDLING OF #TORBAYKIND

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

 

VOLUNTEERING, a subject close to the heart of charities and organisations across the Bay, is back at the top of the agenda.

Volunteers came into their own during the coronavirus crisis when 1,700 people signed up to help and support their neighbours, friends and even strangers in acts of what came to be described as #TorbayKind.

An army of volunteers began shopping for each other, collecting prescriptions, staffing foodbanks, and picking up the phone to befriend people who might not hear another person’s voice from week to week.

But now we are facing a different sort of crisis, one that might not affect everyone in the same way, but will affect everyone in some way – the cost of living crisis.

It is time to come together once again to be sure that we all get through this together and just like COVID the far-reaching effects of this crisis may, in the main, remain invisible.

A surge of calls to the Torbay Community Helpline on 01803 446022 clearly identifies the three F’s as main areas of concern – food, finance and fuel and as a result of any or all of those, mental health is also suffering.

Once again, we need to be checking in on people. Are they warm enough in their own homes, are they able to food on the table and is their perilous plight meaning that they are becoming lonely and isolated?

You won’t know unless you reach out to them. Who knows what is really going on behind your neighbour’s closed door?

In addition, the individual charities and voluntary organisations are suffering their own cost of living crisis – keeping communal spaces warm and the lights burning for others and becoming desperate for volunteers to keep their support going.

Torbay Community Development Trust is next week launching a survey to try and assess the full scale of the crisis and its effects on organisations, the voluntary sector and charities as well as their beneficiaries.

Without preempting the findings, we fear it will make challenging reading when the results are compiled. Watch this space.

There are hundreds of vacancies for willing people to make a difference in a variety of charity, voluntary and event statutory groups and services in all three towns, Brixham, Torquay and Paignton.

The posts vary from sports clubs to care projects from marshalling to answering phones, there is something to suit every interest and they all have one thing in common – they all impact the communities they serve.

You could volunteer to help indoors or outdoors, from your home, your neighbourhood, your town or remotely, much further away; the possibilities are endless and potentially very exciting.

What you choose to do could change someone’s life for the better, or allow a group to continue to function. You would be surprised to learn just how many organisations rely for their very existence on people’s goodwill and acts of kindness.

Across the Bay, groups provide a service to the community that wouldn’t exist without the support of volunteers – who provide the backbone of the services and resources delivered.

But even beyond that, the phrase ‘charity begins at home’ (or at least very close to it) has never been truer and we need to organise ourselves now for what will almost certainly be a tough winter.

You could volunteer to do what you can via the Helpline (01803 446022) or fill in the form online at bit.ly/torbayhelpline and someone will get back to you.

Alternatively, you could organise yourselves and your neighbours into a Good Neighbour Group, watching out for those closest to you and taking it in turns to check on people living nearby, particularly, though not exclusively, the vulnerable and elderly.

If you are unsure of the best way to form a Good Neighbour group, fill in the form at bit.ly/goodneighbourtorbay and one of our Community Builders will get back to you and provide lots of useful tips and guidance.

Brace yourselves, the next few months will not be easy, but together we can get through this, just as we did through COVID. If there is one thing that we can be sure of, it is that Torbay has strong, resilient, caring communities.

Hand heart gesture photo courtesy of Freepik.com

Author