BS3 Covid response group

Summary of the BS3 Covid19 Response group

Main aim of group:

To co-ordinate a grassroots community response to the covid-19 pandemic.


To share relevant, trusted information relating to covid19

To provide practical support by sharing information about local services and matching up those needing help with those offering help via a helpline, email and facebook group

To support those volunteering through training, information and support from the group

To help other groups with similar aims

To work with other local organisations and services to make the most of our collective resources.

This group was created by a resident who saw the need for a local response to the Covid crisis. The group quickly developed, involving other residents and local organisations. It now has over 5,000 members, including about 1100 of whom have registered as volunteers, and quickly self-organised. It has become part of the Mutual Aid network but is not being restricted by the network’s framework.

So far, the group has

  • organised leafletting the whole BS3;established an admin group who monitor the main group and meet regularly
  • established a matching system to link volunteers up with those in need, focusing on matching people as locally as possible in order to create sustainable relationships
  • set up a phoneline. So far they have made about 200 matches.
  • created a website
  • written several supporting documents. 
  • Done training on bigger issues like safeguarding
  • Run a survey on current volunteers to see what their capacity may be beyond the current crisis

They are supporting their volunteers really well with training and woking  with other organisations. The group is one of the most developed in the network and is starting to share knowledge and experience with other groups.

They’ve also supported a new food larder based at St Paul’s Church. Having the group’s support meant they were able to set up receiving donation via BS3 Community and three members of the admin group have sorted out picking up donated food. The larder has supported 274 people in 62 packages (containing food and other household essential items and some activities for children) and has 40 volunteers on the rotas each week.

This Mum Runs has linked up with the local community pharmacy via the group and developed a system for distributing prescriptions in the area.

Snippets from the group:

BS3 Community larder: The community have been amazing in getting us equipment produce and volunteers. We are regularly putting request for food and toiletry items in addition we have been able to borrow of be gifted fridges and freezers. Local business have given produce e.g. pharmacy – sanitary items, caterers – luxury pies, Toyville – lots of puzzles and pens. We’ve had a lovely couple of messages back about the packages. One whose teens were really excited about peanut butter and jam and a school said how much it had helped a really struggling family.

BS3 Community: We had a call from a young mum (Algerian and spoke no English) – webs team worked with her via text messages and Google translate to get her some emergency funding and also larder deliveries each week. She had £7 to her name and an 11 month old son with allergies. We’ve sorted her food wise weekly and shes bought a thermometer and steam cleaner for her accommodation.

There was a gentleman living in a retirement community that has shared washing facilities. He called in to ask if someone could help him with some washing. I called round and found out that none of the local launderettes were doing service washes. I then put a shout out for someone who could help the gentleman with his washing on the Facebook group. I had a few replies from several of our volunteers. Unfortunately, none lived close to the gentleman and as we didn’t know when the washing machine would be fixed it could be a longer-term requirement. So, I called up a friend who lives across from the retirement village and offered to help the gentleman going forward. They have now formed a friendship. We are still waiting on the washing machine to be fixed!

Colin is an elderly gentleman who lives in a tower block. He deals only with cash and doesn’t have a cheque book or bank card. He first got in contact as his GP suggested we could help. Caroline in her role as an Enhanced Volunteer has become his buddy. She has worked with him to sort stopping his rent from BCC and getting his bills stopped so he can make the most of the cash he has. She has been working with him to sort out ways in which to get hold of cash for him. She has argued on his behalf at the pharmacy after they stopped his Dosset boxes and was successful. She is his equivalent of his friends and family – which he doesn’t have in the area. Caroline is according to Colin a life saver. She is helping him to help himself and live in this new era. Colin can now sleep at night!

Terrance is in his late 70’s. He called the helpline for a chat and while I was talking to him said he was really missing his books because the libraries and charity shops were closed. I put 2 posts out on Facebook and so far have had over 60 books donated. The last time I delivered some books to him, he said that they had kept him sane and was extremely grateful to everyone.

We received a help request from a man whose brother is deaf and lives in Bristol (the brother lives away and was worried). He needed help with shopping. We had issues getting hold of him so put a call out for a volunteer with BSL. He is now linked with that volunteer who is getting him regular shopping. She had to also call him an ambulance the other day!

An enhanced volunteer visited someone the council had referred to us who we had trouble getting hold of. It turns out she is not mobile and could not get to the phone. Volunteers were able to flag this, get the phone to a place she could use it, refer for social care help and sort her out with regular shopping.