This week is National Volunteering week so we caught up with Stephen Yip, founder and Chief Executive of one of Griffiths & Armour’s two chosen charities for 2020, KIND, to discuss the work of his team of volunteers and their continued efforts to assist vulnerable children and families across Liverpool.
Formed in Liverpool in 1975, KIND has worked for decades to support children and families cope with the effects of poverty and disadvantage and offer an array of services, experiences and activities to improve the lives of those in our local community.
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the charity sector, as social distancing guidelines means charities have had to adapt their services in accordance with these measures. Despite being forced to close their operations on 23 March, KIND has embraced these changes and is now entering their ninth week of delivering weekly food parcels to up to 200 families across Liverpool and Merseyside.
What has the response been like to your volunteers who are delivering food parcels?
The response from the public has been incredible and seeing the reactions of those receiving the deliveries has been humbling. It reminds those receiving the parcels that they are not on their own, and this support is just as important as the food packages. Our volunteer drivers have felt emotional after witnessing the response, as the families we are delivering to are so grateful for the food parcels. Some of the families we deliver to were once the people who generously donated to us, which I hope makes people consider those in poverty, we shouldn’t have people in this country relying on food banks but that is the reality of where we are right now.
As a small charity, has it been difficult to adapt to the changes?
Within a week of us being forced to close our doors, we decided to do our Food Project and committed £54,000 from our running costs to continue to support our community. As a small charity, we do not rely completely on fundraising but the generosity and kindness of others, which includes local people in the community volunteering their time to help. Every donation made has enabled us to keep supporting those who need it and makes a huge difference to every person we are able to help.
How have your operations and volunteer workforce had to change as a result of COVID-19?
Social distancing measures mean that the number of volunteer packers we can accommodate is reduced, but our team has been able to pack and deliver packages to up to 200 families a week. We were forced to close our main centre and offices at the beginning of lockdown and we now use warehouse facilities to pack food parcels but have been working hard to ensure that the centre and surrounding gardens are maintained and will be ready to be reopened and accommodate the children safely when we can do so. We expect the demand to remain high for the foreseeable future and will continue to run this service as long as we are able to fund it.
We all appreciate it’s been a very difficult and challenging time for so many, but have there been any positives to come from this current situation?
The community spirit – everyone has been eager to help and speak to each other. It reminds us that we are interdependent and appreciate the hard work of the whole community, whether this be NHS workers, shop assistants or delivery drivers. Everyone should be respected for the jobs they do despite the ongoing challenges.
If you would like to volunteer or donate money to KIND to ensure that they can continue providing essential food packages to those in poverty, please visit: https://kind.org.uk