Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who are giving up their valuable time to help the elderly and vulnerable who live around us in the boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley. We’re extremely proud of everyone who has chosen to go out and knock on doors to identify those who need help in the streets surrounding their own homes.
It’s vital that volunteers take some steps to protect themselves, their families, and also the people that they’re trying to help.
– HAVE SPARE TIME
– HAVE NO UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS
– HAVE TRANSPORT
– WISH TO JOIN OUR LIFELINE VOLUNTEER NETWORK
PLEASE EMAIL US AT MAIL@SEHA.ORG.UK
GUIDANCE FOR PROTECTION OF VOLUNTEERS
Please check government guidance twice a day for any updates so that you can protect yourselves and also pass on any daily advice to those you are helping.
1. Self preservation is of paramount importance. If you are at all unwell then please look after yourselves and don’t volunteer on those days. If you have any symptoms of Coronavirus then please ensure you follow government guidance to the letter. If you don’t look after yourself then you’ll be no good to anyone else.
If you have vulnerable people in your household then please do not volunteer. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Minimising your contact with others will help protect vulnerable family members. This is the right thing to do.
2. Ensure you have disposable gloves available at all times. We have limited supplies of face masks for those who want them but, as far as we’re aware, they’re not as effective as maintaining a safe and sensible distance from others.
3. Keep shops under £15 so that you can do several shopping lists in one go, and so you don’t end up carrying around too much of other people’s cash. Whilst we are trying to reduce waste, the current climate means we should try and use any spare plastic bags that can be easily discarded in recycling bins after use, in order to avoid contamination wherever possible.
4. Encourage those you are helping not to open the door or hand over cash to random strangers and please don’t be offended if people are nervous because they haven’t got to know you yet. Some people will need time to verify your authenticity and to become comfortable with you, and volunteers should actively encourage this. Sadly, there will be fraudsters around who will prey on the vulnerable at a time like this and we should all encourage positive practices wherever possible.
5. Please don’t enter people’s homes and remind those you are helping that they should not invite strangers in either. You should leave their bag containing their supplies, receipt and change on the doorstep, ring or knock, and then stand back while they check the contents of the bag. Remind them to wipe down the bag if reusable, or empty and discard it if disposable, and then wash their hands thoroughly before they do anything else. Fresh fruit and veg should be thoroughly washed and anything with outer packaging should be removed from it if at all possible. Once the bare minimum is left, they should wash their hands again before putting their shopping away or before they touch anything else in their home.
6. In order to avoid mix ups, ask the person you are helping if it would be OK for them to write their name and address on the inside of the bag, towards the top. This will make shopping, packing and delivering a lot easier for you.
7. We have found that 11am and 2pm tend to be a fairly quiet times in supermarkets. Local shops have turned out to be an absolute boon. Please do support local retailers wherever possible, even if they are a little bit dearer.
8. If you see anyone profiteering, then please gather any evidence you can and pass it to us by email. We will report this behaviour and, if they persist, then we will take further appropriate steps, but please DO NOT confront them yourselves, no matter how tempting it may be at the time. Just walk away, make a note and don’t go back there again.
We have tried speaking with supermarkets to see if they will allow our volunteers access during their elderly hour with a letter of authority from us but we have had no response. We are also subjected to strict limits on goods, even if you are shopping for several vulnerable individuals at the same time, so you may have to queue again to get all your shops done. Please ensure you are not rushed for time.
Please keep yourselves safe and please encourage those you are helping to bear in mind that there will be people out there who will be seeking to take advantage of their vulnerability. Please provide any advice and guidance you can and pass their details to us by email if they need specialist advice and we’ll try and tap in to the appropriate networks for further guidance and help.
Finally, god bless each and every one of you for your incredible love and kindness.
Jay Shri Krishna!