Sarah Taylor, Health and Wellbeing Team Manager for One Walsall, talks to us about the importance of volunteers and the role they play in integrated care.
"One of the positive outcomes from the covid-19 pandemic has been the way in which we saw local people coming together to support the most vulnerable people in their communities.
This has shone a light on how volunteers can create much need resilience across our population and the important role they play in integrated care.
Following the first lockdown in March 2020 we were inundated with offers of help and support from over 1,300 local residents willing to deliver food, medication, support in our vaccination centres and lend a listening ear to those feeling lonely and isolated.
This support was invaluable to the health and care sector in helping to maintain the delivery of services during unprecedented times and has highlighted that whilst volunteer resources exist within our communities it is a resource of skills and time that systems have not always realised the full benefits of.
The partnership has a good understanding of the key role volunteering has in how integrated care can work in communities and the volunteering response to covid is a great example of what can be achieved when health and care systems work with communities.
We need to ensure we continue to work closely and that greater investments are made in the volunteering and community sector in order to build resilient communities, reduce the pressure on services and meet our long-term priorities.
Mr and Mrs C were just two of the volunteers recruited by One Walsall. Here they tell us their story:
"At the beginning of January 2021 when the pandemic was at its height and the country was in lockdown, we decided to apply to help with the Vaccination Programme which was starting in earnest. Due to shielding and social distancing all regular volunteering duties were suspended and we both wanted to do something to help in a small way.
We always like to volunteer together which makes travelling more economical and allows us to swap over duties. We can honestly say that volunteering at the vaccination centres has been a great experience.
Meeting thousands and thousands of lovely people has been a great boost during a difficult time. As we have tended to volunteer at the same centre, we have seen many people returning for their second vaccination. It has been very rewarding to be recognised and thanked.
Sometimes we meet people who are very hesitant about the vaccinations, and it has been a positive experience for us being able to reassure them. Sometimes they just need to hear our own personal experience after the vaccinations.
After being involved at the same centre for over five months we have started to feel like a small part of a very efficient team. When we arrive, the general comment is “You know what you are doing and it is lovey to see you again”
If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering opportunities please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01922 619840.