Brum’s Voluntary Sector Virus Response off to a Flying Start

The voluntary and community sector’s efforts to support local residents through the coronavirus crisis have got off to an inspiring start, says Brian Carr, chief executive of Birmingham Voluntary Service Council.

A partnership effort between BVSC and Birmingham City Council was announced on Tuesday by the City’s leader, Ian Ward. Councillor Ward said, “The coronavirus outbreak is the most significant public health challenge the city and the country has faced in recent years, and we’re hugely grateful to community groups and individuals across the city who are stepping up.”

Brian Carr commented, “A huge amount of spontaneous voluntary action is happening. We’re seeing literally hundreds of ‘coalitions of kindness’ springing up across the city. Neighbours are reaching out to support each other with efforts ranging from regular welfare phone calls for elderly and self-isolating people, to shopping runs and deliveries that support local foodbanks and the less mobile. New friendships are being built, albeit at a prudent physical distance. It’s nothing short of inspiring. It’s what Birmingham is all about.”

In addition to encouraging grassroots action across the city, BVSC has pulled together a group of local and specialist neighbourhood organisations and charities – the C19 Support Brum Partnership – to help coordinate this community-level response to coronavirus in ways that are safe and effective. Covering every part of the city and a range of relevant thematic areas – including homelessness, housing, mental health, food, disabilities, and older people – the partnership is working hard to connect local people to the support they need.

Founder members of the C19 Support Brum partnership are Midland Mencap, Forward Carers, Birmingham Mind, Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid, the Diocese of Birmingham, West Midlands Housing, Bournville Village Trust, Crisis, Compass Support, The Active Wellbeing Society, Birmingham Settlement, Age UK Birmingham, Gateway Family Services, Northfield Community Partnership, the Neighbourhood Development and Support Unit, Witton Lodge Community Association, Accord, Pohwer, Age Concern Birmingham, the Disability Resource Centre, the Homelessness Partnership, and the city’s Neighbourhood Network Schemes in Northfield, Edgbaston, Erdington, Hall Green, Hodge Hill, Ladywood, Perry Barr, Selly Oak, Sutton Coldfield, and Yardley.

Brian Carr said, “I’m immensely grateful to and proud of Birmingham’s volunteers and voluntary sector, and of our firm partnership with friends and colleagues in the City Council, NHS, and the private sector. We’ve mobilised quickly, but we know this is just the beginning of our efforts. Coronavirus is a challenge for us all, but together we’ll get through it.”

If you are a community group which has developed (or is developing) a response to the coronavirus outbreak, BVSC wants to hear from you. Please contact comms@bvsc.org  or call 07388 376 945