This is the story of how people started gathering together, back in March, all wanting to help their neighbourhoods. It resulted in an organically formed group, whose mission became to help others in need through this pandemic. Now as an established voluntary sector group, and W3RT CVS Member, they now share ideas and solutions, to an extended network of Covid support groups across Watford and Three Rivers areas through W3RT CVS Forums.

Chorleywood Corona Support Group (CCSG), heavily supported by St Andrews Church, and are primarily made up of parents from local Chorleywood schools, as well as voluntary members of the community. CCSG started out helping support much needed essentials with collection and delivery of; food shopping, prescriptions, local errands, and get hold of urgent supplies amongst our wide network. 

Help then extended further to meet needs with extensive project work consisting of:

  • Receiving referrals from Chorleywood Health Centre and local Pharmacies to help get vital mediation delivered to our most vulnerable and isolated residents within the Chorleywood Parish 
  • Work closely with Rickmansworth Foodbank in providing food donations  
  • Offer additional financial support by way of a supermarket voucher card. This allows families to ‘top-up’ with fresh fruit & vegetables and gives them access to other essential supplies (eg. over the counter medicines, baby items, cleaning products) which they cannot get from the foodbank. 
  • “Call & Collect” home delivery service for the vulnerable and isolated in partnership with Chorleywood Co-op. 
  • Further support in the form of “Creative arts & craft boxes” for vulnerable children during lockdown and “Senior Hampers” with fruit and reading material for the elderly community. 
  • A summer fruit and veg project for vulnerable families.

Vanessa Rousseau, Head of Communication & Community Vanessa from CCSG on  how the groups started up, said:

“CCSG was set up in lightening quick time as many local people came forward to help. We did our best to co-ordinate the support, which involved vetting and registering all volunteers, creating a safeguarding policy, fundraising and raising local awareness. We were operating a response unit as hundreds of calls and emails came flooding in from vulnerable and isolated residents asking for help.”  

CCSG faced challenges around the number of requests coming through. Questions were asked, such as “how do we handle so many different concerns and issues?” This is where W3RT CVS stepped in. CVS approached the group, providing them with much needed information, guidance and support to help with the operation.  CCSG were invited to join weekly COVID support calls set up by CVS to help through the pandemic.  Members and non-members alike were helped by CVS, and the networks and communications all helped for groups to complete the support with confidence.  The COVID zoom support calls looked at range of issues such as volunteer management, volunteer and community wellbeing. The CVS was there with solutions on training, referral pathways, and a “think tank” of new engagement ideas. 

On how CVS helped CCSG, Vanessa went on to say:

“Within a few weeks, I was contacted by the W3RT CVS team who got in touch to offer their support and set up weekly Zoom calls. This was a lifeline, enabling all community groups who had emerged in neighbouring towns and villages to unite. This gave us an invaluable opportunity to connect, share ideas, ask questions and receive specialist advice on a number of social issues and situations we were facing”. 

Health & wellbeing

Within a few weeks the CVS recognised that the COVID groups did not just need guidance things like safeguarding but also on how to support their own volunteers. With this in mind the CVS provided the groups with guidance on how to manage the wellbeing of not only it’s volunteers, but the communities too.  

Alison May, W3RT CVS Lead for Three Rivers, further added: 

“These community volunteers will be one of the most positive outcome of COVID and I look forward to working and helping these groups to develop new community projects”  

Education, Training, Information, Guidance well received

To help with the community support the CVS have arranged other organisations such as ASCEND, CAB, YC, Herts Mind and Herts Trading standards to join the weekly calls to give guidance around Wellbeing services, Mental Health, CAB services, Scams and Youth support provision.  

Lessons learned, ways forward?

As the demand for emergency support has for now reduced slightly, the CVS has helped the groups to develop look at how they can continue to help their communities, by looking at what is around in the neighbourhood and what their needs are as they arise. The CVS has helped groups to link up with local established organisations to develop these ideas further.  

On the future Vanessa from CCSG concluded:

“As we look towards an uncertain future, we can see the negative impact the pandemic has had on some families and individuals. We continue to work closely and value our relationship with the W3RT CVS team as we respond to different needs that arise from within our local and surrounding neighbourhood.”

Further information on CCSG can be found below:

CCSG are now looking to develop new projects or re-launching of existing projects, such as Chorleywood care, a new car scheme and “The Chorleywood Refugee Donation Project.” Please visit their Website or Facebook page for updates on what impact is made next. Or if you would like to join the CCSG as a volunteer, please click here to complete the following short registration process.  And if you would like to connect with the volunteers please visit the website for an up to date list in your area

Like to know more on how you too could create a group, please contact us at [email protected] where we would be delighted to help.