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HOPE Coventry’s rapid and escalating response to the Coronavirus pandemic is being filmed this week by Sky News.  The crew are following the progress of a food parcel as it goes – with the aid of HOPE Coventry’s volunteers -- from the city’s foodbank to the HOPE centre and finally to a needy home. The film, which will also include an interview with the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, is one of four reports being shot by Sky this week. They will be broadcast in the week beginning 20 April.

Good Neighbour project

The story of the food parcel is a snapshot of HOPE Coventry’s work serving the community which has expanded dramatically over the past three weeks. Its Good Neighbour project was already reaching 120 people across the city, linking befrienders with older, isolated people. HOPE Coventry was supporting the homeless through a Winter Night Shelter. The Coronavirus pandemic provoked an avalanche of new volunteers, many from churches in the city, who were keen to help. They were needed. Coronavirus had caused a sharp rise in referrals for help – needy people whose details were passed on by the city council, social services or distant family members. Normally Good Neighbour gets about 75 referrals in three months; suddenly it had to cope with more than 100 in 10 days. 

Three-fold response

HOPE Coventry rose to this challenge, quickly bringing in extra volunteers and processing the new applicants. It also expanded Good Neighbour’s work. Volunteers are now providing support in three ways: befriending and supporting more isolated, elderly people; distributing parcels from the Foodbank and also fetching shopping for those self-isolating and unable to leave their homes. 

There are many small stories of making a difference. In one, a person had been discharged from hospital after chemotherapy and found themselves looking after someone with dementia. After a desperate call for help, Good Neighbour matched them with a volunteer. One hour later, a Foodbank food parcel was delivered. The food parcels include a copy of the Hope for All magazine.

HOPE Coventry food parcel

Coventry City Council ‘amazed’

HOPE Coventry’s effective system of DBS checking and processing volunteers quickly means they are likely to be involved in helping a new group – vulnerable people aged under 50. Chief Operating Officer, Chris Edwards, says HOPE Coventry’s credibility is significant, ‘It is wonderful that people have to wanted to volunteer. We have a good reputation in the city for volunteers who come forward… Coventry City Council are quite amazed at how sorted we are with the volunteers – the robust measures that we have in place. That’s why they are happy to extend provision to the under-50s.’ 

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