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Celebrating Volunteers’ Week

A big virtual THANK YOU…

We’re celebrating Volunteers’ Week this week and want to give a great big shout out to all our AFRIL volunteers for their support over the last year. So, that includes volunteers supporting our Helping Hands Food Bank, Rainbow Club Saturday Supplementary School, AFRIL allotment, Advice Service, office and administration, driving, social media, fundraising, design, and our board of trustees.
We are thinking about you, wherever you are across London, the UK, and the Globe this week. Whether you are currently involved actively on our projects or ‘resting’ from your usual AFRIL volunteer role; thank you. We would not be where we are without you and we know that going forward, whatever shape AFRIL’s services look like as we transition out of COVID lockdown, we will definitely be continuing to ask for your participation and support in familiar but also new and exciting ways.

We celebrate UK Volunteers’ Week at a moment in global history when volunteering has never been more visible, and the act of volunteering has touched many more people’s lives. At a street, community, borough, and national level hundreds of thousands of people have stepped up to new ways of supporting each other, whether through a formal role or via simple acts of neighbourliness and extra care for each other. As we find new ways to volunteer using digital technology, we are using new language – virtual volunteering (volunteering online) that was always part of our community response, has had a rebirth and developed new roles and guises.

AFRIL has gone through remarkable transformations since lockdown began in March. We moved everything from face-to-face, group activities to a virtual/home-based offer carried out from bedrooms, kitchen tables, back gardens and via cycles, cars and vans connecting our community via phone, email, video, and home delivery. We are currently supporting over 70 families. Depending on their individual needs, AFRIL is supporting families with weekly check in calls, food, payments to buy food independently, baby supplies, toiletries, advocacy and advice, support, home study and art activities at home and emergency hardship grants.

As a staff team, we want to give a big shout out to everyone that has helped us on this journey so far. This includes our existing volunteer teams. We’ve also made some amazing new relationships with colleagues in the Lewisham Food Bank Network and with similar providers out of borough. A special shout to volunteers from Lewisham Local, Feed the Hill. The Takeaway Feast, Catford Fridge and Lewisham Mutual Aid who have provided and delivered free food parcels and cooked meals on our behalf whilst our physical food bank space at St. Peter’s Church Hall has been closed.

We also know that some of you have stepped up to new roles in your local communities, joining the huge swath of people helping each other out with shopping, phone calls to combat loneliness, and caring for vulnerable people in your families. We know that to volunteer in ordinary times takes energy and dedication; that’s even more true now when it involves developing new skills; new resilience and new challenges. We wish you all the best and hope you continue to stay safe and well.

AFRIL’s response to COVID 19 is a journey that continues to have several phases and at present, an unclear destination. As our service structure develops and changes, we will keep you posted and updated on how this will impact on volunteering opportunities and how you as individual volunteers can choose to be involved. We look forward to seeing you all face-to-face as soon as it is safe.

Thank you again from the AFRIL staff team – Katie, Kieran, Helen, Shahrazad, and Kate