St John to co-ordinate community volunteer effort

St John Ambulance Guernsey is partnering with the Guernsey Community Foundation, the Association of Guernsey Charities (AGC) to form ‘Volunteer Guernsey’ which will will keep a register of volunteers and direct help where it is most needed.

Volunteer Guernsey has been set up to coordinate the island’s growing number of helpers as the island responds to an unprecedented challenge to public health. It follows a surge in volunteer numbers in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Volunteer Guernsey’s role is to maintain a register of volunteers who can be deployed in response to requests for help from both individuals and charities.

“The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the best in Guernsey people,” said Jim Roberts, Chief Executive of the Guernsey Community Foundation.

“A huge number of people want to help their fellow islanders. But it’s become increasingly apparent that we need a central organising body to coordinate all that help — and that’s where Volunteer Guernsey comes in.”

Mr Roberts said that a well-organised volunteer workforce was essential in terms of infection control and social distancing.

“It’s important to minimise the number of journeys and home visits that volunteers carry out. It’s far better for one volunteer to make a single journey to a street and drop off shopping at four addresses than it is for four volunteers to make four journeys to the same street.”

Effective immediately, anyone who is eager to volunteer should contact St John by emailing recruitment@stjohn.gg.

Trained staff will ask callers how they’d like to help, and about the presence of other people in their household — again, for infection control purposes. St John will then organise police checks and once appropriately vetted, the applicant will be added to the St John volunteer database and told to stand by.

Nikki Harrison, Chief Operating Officer of St John, said: “St John has a long history of supporting the community in times of need. We also have experience of co-ordinating large groups of people in response to emergency situations, as well as providing training for volunteers.

“Alongside the Community Foundation and AGC, we will be building on the excellent work already done by the Guernsey Isolation Support Group through their Facebook page, which has resulted in a tremendous community response.

“Like many, I have been struck by the level of community spirit that we’ve seen across the island over the past couple of weeks. St John will not only bring together a central pool of volunteers, but will also fast track vetting and training of helpers before they are allocated to specific tasks.”

St John will deploy volunteers in response to requests for help made by individuals or charities, who can call 742147.

“Staff from St John will be working from home to collate requests for help and match them with appropriate volunteers,” said Mrs Harrison. “I’d like to thank the St John team for responding so quickly to the emerging situation.”

In order to plan ahead, Volunteer Guernsey is asking charities to submit details of their needs via the volunteer.gg website maintained by the AGC.

Charities can also speak to Malcolm Woodhams, AGC Chair, about their current or future volunteering requirements and Mr Woodhams will liaise with St John.

Volunteer Guernsey will work alongside the likes of Health Connections, the Guernsey Voluntary Service and Carers Guernsey, all of whom have extensive experience in delivering community support.  It will also work closely with the States of Guernsey to ensure that islanders in need of help are directed to St John as appropriate.