We hope you are well and adapting to the current way of living. It certainly has been a challenging few months. Like many projects, Rural Wisdom delivery has been hugely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  With the safety of community members, volunteers and staff in mind, we stopped our face-to-face activities the week before our government recommended us to do so.

I am not sure anyone was genuinely ready for how this virus would change our working practices and lifestyles. However, across the national organisation, we acted very quickly to re-design our work to face whatever was coming. We looked at what our communities might need, what we wanted to achieve to meet that need and what we could deliver practically.

During this process, our colleagues in Newport were commissioned by the local council to develop a COVID-19 response initiative. This piece of work required putting a package together and Volunteering Matters staff across the principality and beyond pulled together to create it.

Our new Coronavirus Response project enables us to recruit, DBS-check, train and provide ongoing support to volunteers as they help those self-isolating or shielding in the community with shopping, prescription collection, dog-walking and telephone befriending. We are delighted that we have now rolled out this package of support to our Rural Wisdom areas of Pembrokeshire and Flintshire.

Our response work has enabled us to maintain a presence within the community as well as relationships with local authorities, partners and, of course, community members.

Some of the community champions who worked with us to set up Rural Wisdom activities have now become volunteers of Volunteering Matters; they now provide support to other community members, including those who attended our events.

As well as carrying out our COVID-19 response tasks, we are also keeping touch with community members, keeping them updated with local information and making contact just to say hello.

As restrictions begin to ease, we hope to have summer on our side. If the season is kind to us, perhaps we can begin to plan a picnic in the park or at the beach and begin to enjoy more time with our family and friends.

Until then, stay safe.

Best wishes,

Rachel & Shereen