Remote working 2.
We have learned, yet again, that the people of Glasgow can do incredible things when faced with a crisis.
“People are stepping up. We have been overwhelmed with the response from people looking to support their communities and wanting to do all they can to play their part in our collective response to the pandemic,” says Audrey Mutongi, The No.1 Befriending Agency’s Managing Director.
“We held our first webinar with volunteers last week and are moving training online, while creating new roles for volunteers. Adopting online platforms helps us not only to develop as an organisation, it enables us to continue to support socially isolated and vulnerable people during the crisis. In addition, we have developed an outreach shopping service, where volunteers help older people get the food and prescription deliveries they need or help them set up online ordering for provisions and medication” explained Sheila, Business Development Manager.
“It’s incredible to see how keen people are to help. The quality of all of our volunteer applicants so far has been amazing” says Shonagh, one of the Volunteer Coordinators now responsible for the telephone befriending project.
The question remains: how does working remotely fit with the overall framework of the organisation, and how exactly does it continue to hinder us delivering our befriending services?
“The No.1 Befriending Agency normally works directly with vulnerable people as our volunteer befrienders have face-to-face befriending visits with our elderly clients, many of whom are more concerned about loneliness and social isolation than the virus itself,“ Sheila admits, clearly outlining the biggest challenge to face the No.1 Befriending Agency due to the necessity of remote working. Then she brightens. “Several months ago, we piloted a new telephone befriending service with a few volunteers and clients, which was just about ready to recruit new volunteers and roll out to the wider community. Because of this, we had the framework in place to support telephone befriending and this made the transfer to telephone befriending much easier and quicker for all our existing clients, ensuring continuity of service, albeit in a different way.
“However, there was a huge surge in demand for the befriending service as the social isolation restrictions came into place. This increase in demand meant that we did not have the staff or volunteer resource to do this, so we applied for emergency funding. It was awarded and will enable us, not only to support existing clients, but also to expand our capacity to meet the significant increase in demand for our services, and recruit staff and volunteers to support and deliver those services. This funding will help us to continue our services and support additional people in the community, who will be matched with a volunteer befriender and receive regular support via the telephone. The funds also enable us to give people from the local community opportunities to volunteer in a way they couldn’t or wouldn’t have thought of before.”
So, the answer is that we have found new ways to change our business model and adapt to all the hurdles and possibilities that remote working and social distancing throw in our way. "I am grateful, especially at the moment during the pandemic when the need is greater than ever, to have the opportunity to work with staff and volunteers who share and deliver the core values of the organisation, and to be part of a social enterprise that makes such a huge difference to socially isolated and vulnerable peoples’ lives," Sheila says.
Audrey agrees. “I am very grateful for the adaptability of the staff and volunteers who are working remotely, and thankful for the resilience of the community members we support. Even in the most trying times, there is still joy and companionship to be found”.
Would you like to contribute?
If you would like to support The No.1 Befriending Agency to reach more vulnerable people across Scotland, we have set the target of raising 30k by December 2020 and donations can be made at the ‘Get Involved’ page of our website today: https://www.befriend.org.uk/get-involved