Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. This year, the coronavirus pandemic has prevented many volunteers from getting involved in their normal activities, but it has also seen others come up with ingenious ways of assisting those most in need during lockdown.
This week, we’d like to celebrate the remarkable work done by many of our members across the county.
CAGs running community fridges have provided tonnes of free food to those in need by starting parcel deliveries to the vulnerable or self-isolating.
So far during the lockdown, Wantage Community Fridge have rescued 5,450 kilos of surplus food and made 1,729 deliveries.
Volunteers at the Botley Community Fridge in Oxford are delivering up to 350 food drops a day as well as offering a cycling service to people experiencing homelessness.
In Sandford-on-Thames, the Talking Shop is offering deliveries on foot and helping vulnerable members of the community stay safe with up to 90 deliveries and orders each week.
Harvest at Home are supporting people to grow their own food and delivering ‘grow kits’ to households facing food insecurity, while Flo’s – The Place in the Park has joined forces with the OX4 Free Food Crew, Ark-T, Waste2Taste and Oxford Together to use surplus food to deliver 574 meals to those most in need in the OX4 area.
Laptops for schools
Didcot Repair Cafe is working with local schools to convert old laptops for school use. They take donated laptops, wipe all the old data and then set them up for use by families who can’t afford laptops for home schooling.
Sustainable Wantage is running a similar scheme with volunteers restoring old laptops to give to families who need them. After being quarantined, machines are wiped of data, reconditioned, PAT tested, quarantined again and delivered to families with schoolchildren or students.
Bikes for Key Workers
In Witney, the Windrush Bike Project started a scheme to refurbish old bikes for donation to key workers. A small group of volunteer bike mechanics began reconditioning their remaining bikes, equipping them with locks and lights and making them available to local key workers. They project soon took off and was mirrored in Oxford city by Active Oxfordshire in collaboration with Cyclox and the Broken Spoke Bike Co-op. Between them, the two projects have delivered almost 100 bikes to keyworkers and have waiting lists for many more.
Some other great initiatives
Oxford City Farm have made a huge effort to raise the funds to move a portable classroom to their site for use as a kitchen and teaching space. Oxford Poetry Library in collaboration with Flo’s the Place in the Park have developed a wildlife and poetry pack based on The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, while Sustainable Wantage have created a series of short videos on foraging, crafting and green walks on You Tube.
Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon have been busy sharing repair tips and are planning a socially distanced seedling swap on June 6th. Low Carbon Oxford North are running a two-part online workshop on Climate Conversations, and Westmill Sustainable Energy Trust have produced a virtual tour of their wind and solar farm.
Community action groups are making life better in all sorts of ways during lockdown. Last year, our members recorded over 50,00 volunteer hours and so many of our projects would be unable to function without them.
We’d like to offer a huge thank you to all of you who get involved and give up your time to help so many worthy causes. You change the lives of others, create a positive sense of community, raise environmental awareness and tackle climate change while doing so, and we’re incredibly grateful for all you do!