In a matter of days, a small charity that supports other charities and organisations across Bath & North East Somerset has recruited over 1,000 Compassionate Community Connectors to support each other.
3SG has just one paid member of staff, but on Friday 13th March, they mobilised their Director James Carlin following a post by Chris Thornett for volunteers on the Bath Mutual Aid Facebook page, set up by Sarah Kean Price.
James Carlin said: “I could see the enthusiasm on social media to do something positive and wanted to provide my support with coordinating the volunteers safely.
“I never expected that we would have hundreds of people signing up each day but it’s such a positive thing for our area to show we care and want to help at this time.
“Similar organisations to 3SG in areas like Swindon and Wiltshire are copying our approach and we’ve been working with national organisations like NAVCA and others to share resources so this Compassionate Community movement can grow across the UK.”
Chris Thornett added: “It’s fantastic to see the way that Bath residents are coming together to ensure we support the most vulnerable at this difficult time.
“We’ve seen so many volunteers sign-up through 3SG’s form in just five days and now it’s a question of making sure we reach those that need help when it arises.
“I look forward to seeing a centralised response with possible hotline, SMS text and email address options that clearly and simply informs people where they can get help outside of medical treatment.
“It’s evident we have many groups willing to help and it’s more a question of making sure we respond efficiently to the situation. ”
A WhatsApp group of people formed organically, with people sharing support, stories and information.
With large amounts of activity on social media, the campaign grew rapidly over just a few days and popular children’s website Kids Of Bath staged an Instagram takeover of 3SG’s account which added hundreds of new volunteers to the register overnight.
Nick Bird, from the Bath Cooperative Alliance, also supported the campaign. He said: “Over the weekend we started seeing so many people offering their services and setting up online groups.
“We felt it was vital to capture all this positive cooperation and mutual aid all in one place so we quickly set up a Community Support: COVID-19 page on our website.
“It’s fantastic to see such an upsurge of compassion in the face of crisis and uncertainty.”
The next step is to match the local volunteers with the charities and community groups who can coordinate their support.
In the meantime, volunteers are being encouraged to call two of their neighbours to check they are alright and pass on information.
People can continue to sign up to the Compassionate Community here: http://bit.ly/communityvolunteersignup.