The Harpenden Cares Contact Centre, operated by the Harpenden Trust at the Trust Halls and by volunteers working from home, has been in operation since Friday, 27 March, including the recent Easter bank holiday weekend.
At the end of a second full week of operations (10 April) we had already passed 300 calls and the technology has worked seamlessly from the outset. We “open our doors” at 10.00 am, through to 2.00 pm, every weekday. We have received anywhere between 20 and 40 calls each day with Mondays usually the marginally busier day. We are fully staffed and have had between 8 and 10 volunteers each day, so every call is being answered almost immediately (indeed the amusement in the Hall has often been the speed at which every call is answered). Outside of these office hours, our voicemail system sends a digital voice recording through to our main Harpenden Trust email system.
Overall, the calls received have been incredibly varied and can sometimes be quite complex and lengthy. As the very first calls came in, it immediately became clear to all the importance of the Harpenden Cares initiative in the current environment. Our call handlers are well supported by members of the experienced Harpenden Trust Home Visitor and Befriending teams and also by our Office Admin team. Our Call Handlers take time to explain patiently to callers the procedure needed for their shopping to be done or prescriptions to be collected. They identify if a caller would appreciate a regular friendly phone call. Callers are referred on to other organisations where relevant. It has also been really rewarding receiving subsequent warm feedback from residents we have helped.
By the end of last week we had received a total of 317 calls; 41% related to shopping and 11% for assistance with prescriptions; about 20% have been offers to volunteer. There have also been frequent calls regarding foodbanks, financial support, and some Befriending requests.
We have expanded our CharityLog system to be accessible to our partners across Harpenden Cares. We have therefore been able to send requests for assistance directly from CharityLog to our partners, including a Foodbank operated by The Salvation Army and Bethany Church; a Shopping Service coordinated by Bethany, and for medical needs which mainly involves collecting and delivering prescriptions.
We have an incredible team of volunteers who have enabed us to scale our operations in record time and to whom we offer our huge thanks. Thanks also to our fabulous partners across Harpenden Cares, as it has been a direct result of all the amazing teamwork that has enabled us to resolve all the requests for assistance we have received so far.
Richard Nichols, Chairman, Harpenden Trust
Harpenden Trust supports Harpenden Cares.
13 April 2020