At a time when many people across our community may look to the Harpenden Trust for assistance, we have sought to ensure that we are in a position to maintain our current services as effectively as possible. A huge team effort has ensured that this has been the case – and a continuing huge thank you to all involved.
As the Convid-19 crisis has deepened however, there must be more that we can do ... and there is.
We have embarked on a substantial scaling up of our Care Fund operations as part of the ‘Harpenden Cares’ initiative. Harpenden Cares has been set up by local Town Counsellors, who are seeking to bring together various Volunteering, Church and local Sports groups to provide wide support to the community in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The 'Harpenden Cares Contact Centre', managed by the Harpenden Trust
Harpenden Trust has been asked to act as the ‘Harpenden Cares Contact Centre’. Based initially at our main Southdown Halls, this essentially amounts to a substantial scaling up of our existing operations.
Much work has been going on to achieve a fully staffed call centre (now open between 10.00am and 2.00pm) and linking incoming calls directly to volunteer’s mobile phones when required. The call centre has ten incoming lines and will link through to our existing Home Visitor and Befriending networks, or as otherwise directed by Harpenden Cares. We have already had a really great response from our Volunteers and Appeal Collectors to help staff the call centre.
For the avoidance of doubt, we are fully respecting the very latest Government Advice, and specifically we have had confirmation that we are providing ‘essential work’ to support vulnerable people across our community.
In terms of staffing, our expanded Care Fund operations have access to our extensive existing Harpenden Trust volunteer network, together now with a further 50+ volunteers who have contacted the Trust directly over recent days. Separately, we already have existing longer-term Befriending relationships, with a few ‘future’ Befrienders in reserve. We believe we will also be able to scale this aspect – appreciating that we can also access the wider charity / church / community networks through Harpenden Cares.
The 70-year history of the Harpenden Trust has centred around our ability to step up to the plate swiftly and support our local community when it has needed us most. The current Coronavirus pandemic is so clearly impacting the lives of many individuals locally - and the Trust has the ability to act fast in delivering immediate support to individuals in need across our community.
I believe we can all be incredibly proud of the roles so many of our volunteers have already played in our response to date ... and will now continue to play over the coming weeks and months to come.
Richard Nichols, Chairman, Harpenden Trust
27 March 2020