From Surrey Youth Focus CEO
Strange times, unprecedented times. How often have you heard this over the last week or so? It is indeed. For most of us who are adjusting to being cooped up with our loved ones, trying both to work and to coax kids into schoolwork. Figuring out new technology and new ways of doing things… I was on my first video conference call for 50 people this week, with some of you. It definitely relied on the collaboration of all to have a disciplined meeting. Also, there are those whose jobs mean that they are still going to work – thank you to doctors, the police officers, the social workers, the workers at lodgings for vulnerable people who are still going to work and taking more than usual personal risks in their endeavours. I consider myself, however, extremely lucky to be living in a house with a garden in the country. I cannot begin to imagine the additional pressure this situation it putting on some families and young people in Surrey and believe that collaboration is now more important than ever to support them.
I am witnessing (via video/teleconference, not in person I promise) the charity and public sector work at amazing pace to reconfigure services, nurture and protect the most vulnerable whilst doing their best to protect the health of their own staff. I think it’s fair to say that many people are facing the most challenging situations of their careers and even their lives. I am also seeing on Facebook and other social media channels the vast army of local people self-organising and wanting to help.
At Surrey Youth Focus, we don’t do frontline delivery, but nevertheless my wonderful team have sprung into action to figure out the role we can play to find out and solve common problems being experienced by several organisations, spotting and flagging up concerns with the right people, etc. We have run a number of video conferences via MS Teams (other video conferencing systems are available e.g. Zoom), more successfully than we would have expected two weeks ago.
By chance, we were due to have a meeting bringing together bereavement charities this week, so we switched to the virtual world, changed the agenda to more immediate problems and gathered a wealth of information about the problems that these organisations are facing and the opportunities to ensure that children and young people get support in the coming weeks. We also instigated a video conference call of 50+ Surrey Charity CEOs with Surrey County Council and the Community Foundation for Surrey to learn about the multitude of issues that charities are facing at the moment – financial, reconfiguring services, protecting the most vulnerable, etc. We are seeking to help where we can – feeding back to funders, group support to get up learning curves, etc. If you are a Surrey based children’s charity, please do not hesitate to email us if you are facing an issue due to Covid that others are likely facing too – whether it be IT, financial, HR, business continuity or other. We can hopefully help solve your problem, and share your learning around.
Some specific bits of information for you:
The Surrey Local Resilience Forum (Surrey’s equivalent of Cobra) is leading the county’s response to Covid. There is a subgroup beavering away to develop the county’s response for Vulnerable People - that is people vulnerable to Covid who are being Shielded/self-isolating and also those vulnerable to other issues exacerbated by Covid e.g. domestic abuse, disabilities. I have joined that group and my colleague from Surrey Community Action – Jason Gaskell, will also be joining. The group is looking at ensuring that everyone can get access to food, medicines, etc. It is also considering other new issues as appropriate. If you are aware of a Covid related issue that is not being addressed at this time, please do email Jason and myself. In particular, if you are aware of any vulnerable groups that are not being picked up by the current response, do let us know. (In the event that either of us falls ill, we can back each other up).
Surrey County Council have set up a helpline for people who need shopping, prescription collections, etc. It is also for people who want to volunteer. Community Helpline number: 0300 200 1008 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm). For further information and other help see: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-...
If you are a charity looking for funding, our friends at Community Foundation have been working their socks off to do their bit to help charities and community groups to plug funding gaps. Keep an eye on their website for funds which may be able to help you: https://www.cfsurrey.org.uk/