Posted: Friday 22nd May 2020
Library Volunteers supporting their communities:
Many of the volunteers who work in partnership with Hertfordshire Libraries to run our thirteen community libraries are currently dedicating their time to other community-based projects whilst our library buildings are temporarily closed.
Much of the work they are doing is the same as the many generous and supportive deeds that we are reading about elsewhere in Hertfordshire and across the whole country at the moment, staying in touch with and helping those who are self-isolating or lonely. I am also reminded at this time of how busy our volunteers actually always are, as we often forget that many volunteers support more than one organisation at a time. Their stories are also testament to how Hertfordshire Communities are adapting to the current crisis and how voluntary organisations are also adapting and re-purposing to suit local needs.
In Wheathampstead, one of their community library volunteers is a co-ordinator for the Wheathampstead Community Group in their Support for All initiative. Volunteers have been doing shopping and keeping in touch with vulnerable residents. There are also various WhatsApp groups around the village through which volunteers keep in touch with and assist their neighbours. Another volunteer helps at the Wheathampstead Food Bank on a regular basis and others have signed up for the Scrub Hub.
At Knebworth Community Library, five of their volunteers are part of the Helpline phone service for the Knebworth Covid Response Team. They answer calls on a four-hour shift, mainly from isolated villagers who require shopping and prescriptions. The scheme also offers an advice line and a telephone befriending service for those who feel socially isolated and who just want a chat.
In Kings Langley, the main group offering services to the community is the Kings Langley Neighbours Group, which has been in operation over 50 years. Prior to Covid-19, the group offered lifts to medical appointments and ran a weekly lunch club, but as neither of these are now possible, they shop and collect prescriptions, as well as calling their lunch club diners on a weekly basis for a conversation instead. Volunteers give their time to provide a helpline for a few days each month and are also helping to recruit a significant number of new volunteers to enable them to offer these revised services during the crisis.
At Leverstock Green, one of our committee members also drives for Community Action Dacorum. They have changed their focus and also help with shopping and collecting prescriptions for local people who are in self-isolation. They also use Expend cards via an app which saves the drivers or the customers having to handle cash.
Sawbridgeworth volunteers are involved with the Sawbridgeworth and District Churches Action Group. They also provide shopping, prescription collections and friendly contacts for conversation or prayer requests for those who are shielding or volnerable. One of our steering group members there is also part of a charity group that cooks meals for people in need. They provide hot meals twice a week for over 30 people - one of the highlights for her so far being to prepare 130 meatballs and 55 fish cakes in one of the first weeks!
Volunteers in Chorleywood also help with local action groups delivering vital supplies and in Redbourn with the purchasing and delivery of books via a local care group.
All of these heart-warming stories involve our wonderful volunteers taking the time and care to help others, which reduces the pressures and the risks for older or vulnerable customers, keeping them safe whilst also protecting our vital NHS resources and staff.
Thank you to all our community library volunteers doing this fantastic work.