Our lockdown story

Volunteers’ Week: Keeping our volunteers safe during lockdown

In short, we’re already big fans of handwashing and PPE. Since lockdown, we’ve gone the extra mile on health and safety. All so that we can keep volunteers safe and secure.

From the beginning of lockdown in March, 47% of our existing team members have had to isolate at home due to age or underlying health conditions, so we’ve needed to welcome a large number of new volunteers to the family to keep our service going.

Meeting national guidelines to keep volunteers safe

In line with FareShare UK and government guidelines, we’ve put a strong COVID-19 procedure in place. Above all, we aim to keep everyone safe. These rules include the following.

  • Screening: We’ve introduced a questionnaire that is taken each time a staff member or volunteer comes in, to confirm nobody is experiencing symptoms or has visited any high-risk environments elsewhere.
  • Hygiene: We’ve sourced bulk supplies of hand gels and cleaning materials to reduce the risk of transmission. We also have a dedicated handwashing table set up at the entrance to our warehouse.
  • Social distancing: Wherever possible we make sure that everyone is 2 metres apart. However, this is sometimes difficult in a logistics and warehouse environment, so we’ve separated working areas into different zones. A maximum of 3 people work within each zone. We’ve also introduced an evening shift so we can spread staff and volunteers out across more of the working day.
  • PPE: We have a big supply of face masks and gloves for all our team members, as well as new hi-vis jackets that are printed with a special reminder to keep 2 metres apart.
  • New warehouse space: We’re in the process of moving into a new warehouse to help us increase our capacity during the pandemic and create more space for people to work in. We’re looking for donations to help fund the refurbishment of the new space – can you help us raise the £500,000 we need?

We've introduced an evening shift here at FareShare Greater Manchester to handle pandemic struggles

More about our safety approach

Elizabeth Lauder, Volunteer Manager at FareShare GM, said: “Thanks to careful planning, we’ve been able to operate safely by working within zones with fixed teams and still keep up with the significant need for our services during the lockdown.

“It hasn’t negatively affected the atmosphere. If anything, people are giving each other a bigger wave than normal at the start of the day and everyone is looking out for each other.”

Over the course of this year’s #VolunteersWeek, 69 people have volunteered safely for FareShare GM. They’re helping to distribute 45 tonnes of food – compared to a pre-virus weekly average of around 25 tonnes. We expect this heightened demand to last throughout the pandemic, so we need volunteers all year round to help us.

 Interested in joining our volunteering family? Visit www.fareshare.org.uk/volunteer

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