Riverside launches Volunteer Support Scheme to tackle COVID-19

The Liverpool-based social housing provider Riverside has launched its own Volunteer Support Scheme to help its frontline workers respond to issues caused by COVID-19.

Over 210 frontline and back office employees have so far volunteered to provide extra support for Riverside’s customers, especially those classed as vulnerable people.

Examples of additional help that Riverside’s employees are offering include covering emergency shifts at homelessness services in Manchester and delivering food supplies and prescriptions to vulnerable customers.

Lee Bailey, Riverside’s volunteering manager, said: “The current circumstances have meant that our team has stepped up to volunteer their time to support services in need. My thanks go out to everyone who has volunteered for the huge difference they’ve made.

“Volunteers are enriching our services and this has meant that we can continue to provide an excellent service to our customers, enabling us to support the most vulnerable. Whether it’s delivering shopping, medication or checking in for a chat once a week, the positive impact on our customers’ lives is tangible.”

Volunteering has long been a part of Riverside’s ethos, as all its employees are entitled to take up to two paid volunteering leave days a year, either for Riverside or other causes.

The Volunteer Support Scheme was set up as Riverside’s offices closed due to social distancing guidelines, forcing non-frontline staff to work from home.

The social housing group has now set up a combined team of frontline and non-frontline staff to regularly call all of its vulnerable customers, completing self-isolation plans for over 7,500 residents and helping them to access food, medication and adapt to current guidelines.

Other workers from Riverside’s repairs and maintenance teams have been redeployed to deliver food supplies and prescriptions to vulnerable customers across the country.

Robbie Cowbury, a homeless services campaign manager for Riverside, is currently covering emergency shifts at Manchester’s Newbury House complex needs service after several of its staff were forced to self-isolate.

Alongside his usual office-based role, Robbie is now helping to clean and offer welfare services at the supported accommodation, while more long-term support work is being picked up by colleagues working remotely.

Robbie said: “It’s been fantastic to gain first-hand experience of frontline situations, instead of just organising campaigns for homeless services.

“It was really good to see people in supported housing following the Government’s health guidelines, responding positively by staying in their rooms.”

Riverside is one of the UK’s largest social housing and regeneration organisations, owning or managing around 56,000 homes across the UK.

Photo credit: Riverside

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