It’s Volunteers’ Week and it’s #TimeToSayThanks to our volunteers at Westminster Connects who have used their spare time helping others in the community.
Out of an amazing groundswell of community spirit at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Westminster Connects was created to match volunteers with vulnerable residents who need help and support.
Since then, more than 3,000 volunteers have been very busy supporting 6,000 people in the community, from creating face masks for NHS staff, to calling vulnerable or shielded residents for a chat, to buying and dropping off food shopping. Over 25,000 different actions of help have been carried out by our wonderful volunteers.
Louis Byrne has taken on many volunteering roles since joining Westminster Connects. With his day job providing haircuts in the media and fashion world, Louis has temporarily put down the scissors to help deliver food to vulnerable residents from North Paddington Food bank instead. He said: “I enjoy getting out of the house and doing something good for people less able or in need. Volunteering helps me to take the focus off of myself and on to something else. Kindness and wellbeing are a big driving force to how I live my life and in these times we are experiencing, it’s important to help each other out, it gives me a sense of purpose and pride.”
Mung-Nee Yeow, from Queen’s Park, has taken on the role of Wellbeing Check in and Chat, speaking to residents who are shielding or vulnerable. Mung-Nee has five residents to speak to, who each have a half-hour slot every week, and conversation topics range from politics to what food they are eating. She said: “They are grateful I call every week and I feel that I’m helping them a little bit by having an outside person talking to them. I’m not the usual doctor or nurse who just rings them. I hope I’m helping them, it’s a break from the normal routine to talk about whatever has happened to them, it helps me too to understand what they are going through.”
Farah London has lived in Westminster for more than 10 years and has been helping feed the homeless with her spare time during lockdown. The Westminster Connects volunteer has been part of a team packaging more than 900 meals at Unity Kitchen for those in temporary accommodation or who are homeless. Explaining why she enjoys helping others, she said: “It’s great knowing people like me can help. During this crisis, strangers are volunteering and helping my vulnerable elderly parents, it’s nice knowing whilst I cannot see my parents, I can help someone else’s parents.”
She added: “I live to serve others, I have volunteered for many years and always want to assist anyone I can. There truly is no greater joy than being able to impact someone’s life.”
Cllr Melvyn Caplan, Westminster City Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Regeneration, said: “We’re so lucky to have such kind, selfless people in Westminster wanting to use their spare time to help others who are in need. Westminster Connects has been one of the silver linings to have come out of this awful crisis, and I can’t thank the volunteers enough for everything they have done for residents in our community.