Through its ‘Emergency Community Response Hub’ Birmingham City Council has been providing food aid to the most vulnerable citizens since the beginning of the pandemic. It has also activated new communication channels and coordinated its response alongside charities and volunteers. Read more here and here
Volunteers across Cardiff are being celebrated this week, including the 1,200 strong Together for Cardiff force which was set up by the city council at the onset of the COVID-19 emergency. Working with council staff, the volunteers helped preparing and delivering more than 5,000 emergency food and essentials parcels for people experiencing difficulties getting supplies during the outbreak because they are self-isolating or because of the financial impact of the crisis. You can read more here
The mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova, has acknowledged the help received from people and institutions during the corona lockdown. She mentions that a total of €211,000 has been donated in the form of food, medicine, protective masks and clothing, medical equipment and disinfectants. More than 140 people in Sofia have received warm food daily. Furthermore, 238 citizens joined as volunteers. You can read more on the mayor’s Facebook page (in Bulgarian)
The municipal markets will start to sell vouchers to give the consumers the opportunity to support the action made by district associations to provide food to those in need. The Economy, Innovation and Employment Area has doubled the amount of subsidies for the expansion of municipal markets, as well as their digitalization, which has been fundamental in recent months and has allowed them to meet the demand of the people of Madrid from their homes, increasing market sales in this sense by more than 400%. Read more here (in Spanish)
A shopping service has been established on the initiative and collaboration between an association, a foundation and a supermarket in Haarlem. The service is aimed at people over the age of 65 and people who are less mobile or have health problems who cannot get their groceries themselves during the corona period. Visit the initiative’s website here
Glasgow like other peer cities is acutely aware of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the city’s community groups that many in the local communities rely upon. To help these groups during the public health emergency, the Glasgow Council on Voluntary Services is offering a range of free training workshops and surgeries designed to support staff, volunteers and organisations.
The workshops have been developed, planned and will be delivered in partnership with the city-wide Glasgow Capacity Building Group including Glasgow City Council, Volunteer Glasgow, Jobs and Business Glasgow and Glasgow Life. Surgeries will cover topics such as funding, staff furlough, homeworking and lone working, redundancy and restructure.
Leeds City Council has joined forces with third sector organisations to deliver vital services to people in need across the city via a network of volunteers and community hubs. Anyone needing help or support during the Covid-19 emergency can call a helpline where they will then be matched with one of the thousands of local volunteers.
The Community Care Volunteer Programme has seen over 8,000 volunteers offer their support to help the vulnerable in Leeds. Volunteers can sign-up to offer practical support such as shopping deliveries, preparing meals, dog walking, making check-in phone calls or as an informal volunteer within their own neighbourhood in more general ways.
Ljubljana is increasing its offer to all age groups; from working with volunteers to keep the elderly company and offering free counselling via telephone; to digital services for the young and telemedicine by telephone or other telecommunication means introduced for all.
Further measures adopted by the city include providing additional space for the homeless and working with volunteers from Ljubljana’s firefighter association and members of Ljubljana’s mountain rescue association and civil protection on public communication. Read more here
At the request of the mayor, Vitaliy Klitschko, a new centre is coordinating community, volunteer, and other organisations’ efforts to assist individual vulnerable sections of Kyiv’s population in the spread of new coronavirus infection.
Increased measures taken by the city include heightened sanitation of roads, bridges, public transport, as well as public utilities and public parts of municipally owned buildings. Further actions include the closure of all children’s playgrounds.
Izmir Metropolitan Municipality has launched a volunteer programme for the fruit harvest during the corona pandemic. Due to the curfew it is expected that many seasonal workers will be unable to attend the harvest. Young volunteers can register online and receive a video training. The municipality provides hygiene sets, including masks, gloves and disinfectants, transportation and lunch. Work in the orchards will start on 11 May. The programme is part of Izmir’s support package for the agriculture sector.
At around 200 production points, including at sites owned by civil society and private organisations, Barcelona city council is aiming to manufacture 300,000 textile masks for staff working in sectors deemed essential. Read more here
This help hub will coordinate and facilitate access for those seeking or offering help. Local volunteer organisations and the city council have teamed up to create this helpline that will assist more efficiently. Read more here
The City of Espoo has reassigned employees from places like libraries and early childhood education into efforts to distribute food. One part of the city’s refocused efforts in this area includes the provision of lunch packages distributed once a week to children currently studying at home. Read more here and here
The city council, third sector organisation EVOC and the volunteering community have come together to provide vulnerable groups food in these difficult circumstances. 3000 areas are targeted at first and further actions will adapt to the citizens’ demand. Volunteers will receive training and schools are acting as logistic centers. Read more here
Nice isn’t forgetting its students and has put into place some measures supporting those living in a precarious situation, for example, volunteers bring them every week a basket of fresh groceries. Read more here (in French)
The Italian city of Genova has compiled a summary of the city’s measures in response to the corona pandemic. The presentation describes a stepwise approach to care for people, jobs and services first, while preparing for reboot and resilient and sustainable growth after the crisis. You can download the document here
In Vilnius, volunteers are matched with tasks submitted by people in need through the Strong Together volunteer coordination website. Social media, websites and direct messaging also helped local entrepreneurs raise around €600,000 to help fund the crisis efforts. And while information is dropped at everyone’s door mobilising even drones, medical facilities benefit from free internet. Read more here
The city of Helsinki has teamed up with local parishes and charity organisations for reaching out to the self-isolating elderly population. In the ‘Helsinki Helpline’ campaign, volunteers are calling the elderly by phone to ask if they need help – or just want to talk about how they are coping with the coronavirus lockdown. The ambition is to contact all 27,000 residents who are over 80. People over 70 years of age can also call for a chat or request help, as with shopping food or medicines. A retailer cooperative and a call center company are supporting the service as partners. You can read more here
Bordeaux is supporting the most vulnerable in several ways, including telephone support and emergency in-person support at designated locations, including food distribution.
The usual support networks are facing major challenges. Volunteers are often older people, who can no longer volunteer due to safety concerns, while the lockdown restrictions make distribution very complex. In addition, unsold food from supermarkets can no longer be collected and redistributed, as it is impossible to maintain appropriate levels of hygiene when sorting through produce.
City employees have volunteered in Nice to take regular news of 35,000 seniors and identify those who are in a precarious situation. Volunteers call seniors regularly to check on them and comfort them, but also to identify those in distress, most isolated and most at risk. Read more here (in French)
Milan is providing a personal grocery shopping and delivery service for the elderly thanks to an agreement with food retailers and a charity organisation. Funded by the charity, the program works through a call centre that the elderly can call to place their orders. The orders are prepared and delivered by volunteers. The program serves around 3,000 people and involves 135 educators. Read more here (in Italian)
In cooperation with Rey Juan Carlos University, Fuenlabrada’s students volunteer to help pupils from primary and secondary schools with their homework through Whatsapp and video calls. Read more here (in Spanish)
People in Madrid can search for shops and delivery services as well as for help from different organisations in their area by using a new digital district map. The initiative ‘Compartimos barrio’, ‘We share a neighbourhood’, has been launched by the city council to make trade and essential services visible during the COVID-19, operational in each district. It aims to supply people who for various reasons cannot go out on the streets or cannot cope alone with the confined situation. You can find the district map and read more here (in Spanish)
Thanks to a network of volunteers, the city will help people at a higher risk to contract the virus to have their shopping delivered at home. The service uses a phone number, which can also be used to ask for psychological support. Read more (in French) here
Bristol has recruited an ‘army’ of volunteers through Can Do Bristol to help with response to coronavirus. They collect and distribute food. The city is also raising funds to support the local grant giving funder, Quartet Community Foundation who launched a Coronavirus Appeal Fund with funds distributed to local communities to address need.
A local online market place for Stuttgart based retailers, restaurants and service providers is now available to residents with the support of the city of Stuttgart. The platform was originally developed as a voluntary initiative and is free of charge. The city is also looking to work with volunteers, who have medical qualifications, to support people in shelters that are known to or suspected to have COVID-19. Read more here and here
Toulouse city and Toulouse Metropole have launched a new online platform, available to all citizens with internet access, which offers mutual assistance to take care of fragile people. Cities are able to publish both requests for help and/or areas in which they are able to help. An already existing service in the city in a 24/7 telephone service and an additional one for senior citizens only. Read more here and here
Cardiff residents have responded overwhelmingly to the call from Together For Cardiff which has been launched by Cardiff Council to unlock the volunteering potential across the city during the COVID-19 outbreak. The volunteering portal harnesses community spirit to match people who want to help, with those in need of assistance, in safe and properly-managed way. Read more here
Nice is calling for citizens to join the activities it performs daily to alleviate the difficulties brought on by coronavirus. These include home delivery of food shopping and medicine, recovery of certain foodstuffs from supermarkets, telephone contact with seniors, and walking pets. The city has launched an open call for anyone willing to join in these activities. Read more (in French) here.
As capital city of Piedmont, Italy, Turin is organising its measures in the corona crisis in close cooperation with the regional and national level. The Municipal Operational Centre is constantly in contact with the Crisis Unit of the Piedmont Region. Social services for the elderly are taking care of other people in need now, and a new system for the supply of free food has been created.
The Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova (in the picture with volunteers), has called on the Bulgarian capital’s citizens to volunteer time and energy to help those at risk – the elderly, people with long-term health problems, socially isolated. For a week, over 100 residents joined as volunteers, serving over 3,000 citizens who need assistance with food deliveries, other shopping, providing medication or a friendly social call. Over 60 local businesses support the volunteer work with donating food and other products. You can read more here (in Bulgarian)
Bamberg is matching those especially vulnerable to COVID-19 with volunteers from their neighbourhood who can help them to run errands or walk the dog. The offer works by phone, and no internet access is required. Read more (in German) here.
Madrid has joined a campaign that helps older people and those in need to bring out their rubbish. The YoTeAyudoConLaBasura initiative comes from the Rey Juan Carlos University. The city is giving the initiative the maximum possible visibility through social networks. This project seeks to help older people and those who need it in the daily work of disposing of their waste while the state of alarm decreed by the COVID-19 crisis lasts. More information (in Spanish) here.
An increasing number of people in Milan is in need of food aid. From the seven food hubs that the city has created across the city, in the first week a total of 1,000 people were supplied. During the second week that number rose to 7,000 people, and it is expected that 15,000 people will be in need of food aid each week in the weeks to come. In order to ensure safety, especially in the transport and handling of food, the volunteers and other workers are provided with masks, gloves and a special training. A strict protocol has been put in place; you can download the guidelines here and read more here.
Elderly people in Madrid who are isolated in confinement due to COVID-19 can call a free phone number and have a conversation with a volunteer. The project ‘Minutos en Compañía’ – ‘minutes in company’ – has been initiated by the Madrid City Council in collaboration with the organisation ‘Adopta un Abuelo’ – ‘Adopt a Grandparent’. More than 100 volunteers are taking the calls via a switchboard and an app on their mobile phones at home. Read more here (in Spanish)
Elderly, disabled and other people who need assistance get home delivery of groceries and medicines via a new service that started this week in Bologna. The initiative “L’Unione fa la spesa” (United we shop) is a joint venture by the municipality, Coop Alleanza 3.0 (the largest consumers’ cooperative in Italy) and representatives of the voluntary sector. Read more here
Ljubljana has connected with a network of local volunteers who want to make everyday life easier for the elderly. The people involved are workers and volunteers from the Home Care Institute (Zavod za oskrbo na domu) and Ljubljana’s cultural public institutes (e.g. theatres, galleries). From Monday to Friday, the volunteer project manager is using the Home Care Institute Ljubljana’s phone number to collect the contact information of those who wish to be called by volunteers. The volunteers talk to the elderly about their jobs and about how the city’s cultural institutes work, as well as about normal everyday things, in order to help the elderly overcome their feelings of loneliness.
When the Slovenian Government banned closed all organised child care, Ljubljana sent a request to kindergarten and elementary school principals to find out if any of their teachers and educators would be willing to volunteer to take children into care, either at the volunteer’s home or the child’s home. 53 educators from Ljubljana’s kindergartens and 26 teachers from Ljubljana’s elementary schools responded to the request. Due to the virus’ specificities, the volunteers can only be healthy people under 50, with no chronic illnesses and those who do not have small children at home. In this way the city has managed to guarantee child care for the children whose parents are obliged to work in extraordinary circumstances.
Ljubljana has organized home food delivery for children from at risk families and elderly citizens. Drivers of city buses are volunteering to perform the deliveries. Over 100 people have volunteered at the Ljubljana Public Transport (Ljubljanski potniški promet) public company. Bus drivers have also started helping with urgent non-scheduled transport of people, organized by the Slovenian Red Cross. The transport is intended for people who urgently need access to essential services or errands.
Tallinn is working together with local start-ups and communities to offer basic services for people in isolation. On Friday, March 13, 2020, Estonian startup foundation Garage48 launched an online hackathon to figure out ways to help communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the solutions is the web-based platform COVID-Help that connects volunteers from local communities with the most vulnerable members of those communities.
Today there are more than 2000 volunteers connected to this platform who offer practical help, like doing shopping for those in quarantine or just calling and talking to lonely elderly people and thus taking some of the stress off local social workers.
Antwerp has launched a platform to facilitate the large number of volunteer initiatives that have erupted across the city. These initiatives aim to help residents who can, for instance, no longer walk to the store or pharmacy or take out their dog.
Residents who need help can report this via an online form or a free telephone number. Antwerp residents who do not only want to help people in their immediate vicinity can register as volunteers. The help offered is very varied. For example, this could be a volunteer who goes to the store every day or one-off telephone help for a computer problem. Even if people want to talk to someone for a while, they can register. Above all, the platform wants to bundle very everyday practical help questions: write a card, chat over the phone, take care of animals, deliver soup, go to the post, do the grocery shopping, etc. Check out the platform (in Dutch) here.
Stuttgart is coordinating a recent surge in volunteer efforts through collating and publishing offers of help, supporting and advising individuals and initiatives in volunteering, compiling ideas for delivering support without physical contact, and providing ideas on further possibilities for solidarity action.
The city is managing this through a new platfomr ‘Corona: Engagiert in Stuttgart’. Read more about the imitative (in German) here.
Belgian municipalities are dealing with the large increase in volunteering through a platform called ‘Give a Day’ which collaborates with local governments so that anyone in the country can find a volunteering opportunity near them. Read more (in French or Dutch) here.
Many Poznan citizens want to help in fight against COVID-19. To coordinate these volunteers, the city is has prepared a form which people can use to declare what type of help they can provide and to which hospital. The city then uses this information to prepare workers to receive products and coordinate when a particular person can bring their help. Read more here.
In Antwerp a triage system was established to isolate and provide appropriate care to patients infected with the coronavirus. A patient must first contact the GP by telephone. With mild or severe symptoms, the patient is directed to one of five triage points on the city’s territory, where a deeper triage occurs. The triage posts are an initiative of GP associations. However, they do not have enough people to perform all tasks there.
After a survey among its own staff, the city of Antwerp delegated volunteers to support the five triage stations that have been set up in the city’s territory. Hundreds volunteered. In less than two days, 10 coordinators and more than 100 call center, reception and security staff were found, selected, briefed, provided with work equipment and deployed in the triage stations.
Bratislava has created a support network targeting the needs of the elderly living alone. This works through a phone line via which the elderly can address operators with inquiries or help requests. Many seniors were personally informed about the beginning of its operation via SMS. Local volunteers are also raising awareness of the service by distributing an information leaflet created by the municipality door-to-door.
This network is meant to compliment the city’s social campaign ‘Help your neighbour’, encouraging healthy adults to help older people in their community with shopping and other needs while strictly respecting enhanced hygienic measures.
The #OurCityHelps platform has been shared free of charge with municipalities across Belgium. It provides an online place to bring together volunteers able to help out and requests for help, including things like doing groceries, chatting over the phone or walking a dog. The City of Leuven was the first city to adopt the platform. Read more here.
A local company and a network of volunteers are helping the Brussels Capital Region produce at least 100,000 face masks for use mainly in nursing homes, the homeless sector and home help and care services. The masks are subject to quality control measures before being made available to the Brussels government.
The municipality of Milan has set up an operational base to organise the transport of goods (food, medicines or other basic necessities) and provide other support services for the over 65, as well as other people who have other chronic conditions or are immunocompromised that have been ordered to stay at home.
A parallel action undertaken by the city includes the creation of seven food hubs for distribution to those unable to leave their home, and the training of 3,000 people who applied to become volunteers.