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Community volunteers live up to the union name

Tiffany Gillies
13th April 2020

Community’s Member Support Group co-ordinator, Tiffany Gillies, writes about how members are helping people in their communities.

Times are tough for our members across the UK, with Covid-19 causing confusion and uncertainty, many of the most vulnerable people in society are stuck at home with nobody to help them out. There are an estimated 1.5 million people advised to shield themselves, and many more self-isolating due to having symptoms of the virus we knew we had to find a way to help our members and let them know that even through these difficult times, Community is there for them.

Our union takes its name because we know how important community is, and it’s at times like this that is clearer than ever. Community has a proud history of taking trade unionism out of the workplace and into local communities, the idea that looking out for one another even after your shift has ended is an important part of being a Community member.

Community has launched our own Members Support Group, made up of members who have volunteered to help vulnerable people. As the world of work is changing, around half of the UK’s companies have already, or plan to furlough staff under the government’s job retention scheme Community’s member support group can help. We have recruited a team of volunteers across the UK who can support vulnerable people with shopping deliveries, dog walking, prescription collection and even lend an ear over the phone for a friendly chat.

We have contacted almost 6,000 of our most vulnerable members by phone and email to let them know we are here for them should they need it and many people have been so grateful to receive the call. Our team of volunteers got together for a conference call where we shared ideas and shaped the future for Community’s member support group. One of the volunteers said “I will do whatever I can to help people get by”. We’ve already helped many members who needed support and we expect the next few weeks will see more and more requests for assistance come through to the group.

Beverley Momenabadi – one of Community’s volunteers helping in her community

One of the members that received assistance with shopping recently said “My wife and I are 85 and in the high-risk category so we are unable to leave the house for essential shopping. Within hours of contacting the Regional Team, a volunteer delivered the shopping to our house…We can’t thank you enough”

We are working with local support organisations and charities across the UK to ensure no one is alone and our volunteers are working with fantastic charities like First Light Trust, who support people who are homeless. Being homeless is hard enough in usual times, but being homeless adds extra struggle to dealing with COVID-19. From a place to wash your hands, to finding a place to shield or self- isolate. So along with our members who need support, we’re working together to get support to the homeless community too.

Around half of the UK’s companies have already, or plan to furlough staff under the government’s job retention scheme if you’re one of them and have some time on your hands – why don’t you join us?

To get involved with the Member Support Group just email volunteer@community-tu.org