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How can charities keep doing social good during social distancing?

Published: 19/03/20 | Categories: Uncategorised, Author: Judith Stone

Judith Stone, WCVA’s Assistant Director of Sector Development, makes a return from secondment to talk about what charities can do to continue their vital work.

With government measures to combat Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) including social distancing, charities across the world are contemplating how can we keep doing social good when our normal delivery models are temporarily disrupted?

Since January I have been seconded from WCVA as Managing Director of Kidney Wales. When I took up post none of us could have envisaged the challenging circumstances in which we now find ourselves.

The third sector in Wales serves an extraordinary array of communities of place and interest. Much of our work is person-centred, often delivered face to face. Under new social distancing measures imposed by government at this time of crisis, we must find new and innovative ways to deliver our vital, responsive work and support our over-stretched public services.

What are we doing at Kidney Wales?

Much of our work at Kidney Wales is face to face with patients, families and health professionals, often at hospital premises.

There are approx. 20,000 kidney patients in Wales; who often have multiple health conditions, may be immuno-suppressed as a result of transplantation, may face restrictions in their daily routines due to their health condition and dialysis treatment, and many already suffer from poor mental health.

Those in the ‘high risk’ category for Coronavirus will feel particularly vulnerable and charities must continue to deliver a meaningful service to people in these unprecedented times.

Here are some things that we have initiated at Kidney Wales:

  • Tracking and sharing guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) for people with kidney disease, produced by Kidney Care UK. Other UK charities are regularly up-dating vital guidance for specific health conditions eg: Asthma UK, Diabetes UK, British Heart Foundation. Mind have published essential reading: Coronavirus and mental well-being
  • Dealing sensitively with phone enquiries from anxious patients, family and friends, securing expert answers to their questions and signposting to further information and advice
  • Routinely checking in with patients over the phone and social media. We hosted a virtual tea party and Facebook live lunch time chat and are looking at more ways to keep the kidney community connected on social media
  • Proactively engaging with health care professionals and specialist Renal Social Workers to offer additional support and resilience to their teams

Our team are working at home until further notice and are busy responding to enquiries and thinking about ways we can support patients and health professionals as the situation evolves.

We also acknowledge that there will be severe disruption to our planned fundraising activities, which poses a significant threat to our financial sustainability. But for now, we are focussing on the priority task at hand and continuing to deliver our vision to unite the Welsh kidney community to enable pioneering, world class care, support and well-being services (albeit, from a distance).

What are other charities doing?

The sector across Wales is working tirelessly to respond swiftly to this crisis and figure out how we can adapt delivery models to meet demand in a dynamic and rapidly evolving context.

We must draw on mutual support to weather this storm. We need ways to quickly share questions and concerns and evaluate new ideas and innovations. WCVA, the 19 county voluntary councils (CVCs) and the Third Sector Partnership Council (TSPC) national networks have a crucial role in informing the sector and enabling rapid sharing of practices.

The purpose of this blog is to get people talking and learning from each other. I’ve reached out to some sector colleagues for a quick straw poll on how delivery models are being adapted to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak and will share feedback over the coming weeks. In the meantime, please let us know @WCVACymru what you’re doing differently.

Judith Stone is Managing Director of Kidney Wales, seconded from her role at WCVA as Assistant Director for Strategy and Sector Development.

Find out more information on coronavirus and Wales’ voluntary sector – daily updates from WCVA.