Holbeck Together: Our People – Tracey1st March 2021
Tracey lives locally and is a Holbeck Together volunteer.
It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since the Covid pandemic began, and Holbeck Together was forced to dramatically alter the way it supports the community, at least for now.
The organisation stepped up its support in a number of ways, and from ‘meals on wheels’ to befriending calls, themed lunches and summer activity packs, it was a rollercoaster of a year. Putting themselves to one side, volunteers old and new came forward in March 2020 to help Holbeck Together in its time of need, when the importance of this hands-on support had never been more evident.
Moving to delivering meals rather than providing them in a community setting meant that a series of drivers were required four days a week to collect the food from the kitchen at St Matthews Community Centre, and deliver them to a group of older people in the community, as the virus was at the height of its first peak.
Tracey, a qualified teaching assistant who lives locally, read about the call for volunteers on Facebook, and put herself forward straight away. She had been working as a cleaner, but was made redundant due to Covid. “I had some hours to kill due to lockdown and not having to do the school run. I saw Holbeck Together was local to me so I knew it was a great opportunity. I jumped in there and called the office to offer my help.”
A couple of weeks later, Tracey set off on her first delivery round. “At the beginning it was really important as a lot of people were shielding. It was a really strange time – we had to wear Holbeck Together passes so people knew why we were out and about during the lockdown.”
It was a challenging period for everyone, but Tracey was never concerned about volunteering at that time. “I knew it could be done safely. We were given masks and hand sanitiser, and I wore gloves at the beginning as well. We keep our distance on the doorstep from people we are delivering to, so I wasn’t worried. I was more worried going to the supermarket!”
Although it took her some time to get used to the roads and the routes she was allocated, Tracey soon got into the swing of things. “I now know where everyone lives just by looking at their names on the list so it’s a lot quicker!” A lady who lives locally with her Chihuahua has become a favourite on Tracey’s delivery route. “When I arrive at the house and knock, the dog runs straight out. Once she wasn’t at home and he didn’t bark, so he obviously just does it to protect her! It’s so sweet. I’m always happy to see her name on the list and know I’m going to see her and the dog.”
Tracey has enjoyed the experience so much that she has been volunteering ever since. “I started off doing three days a week, and now I do one – but I let the team know if they need extra help and do more days. It’s lovely for people to see a friendly face and have a two minute chat – we could be the only people they’re seeing that day. It’s also really nice to have a chance to go out and have some time for myself.“ Delivering to older people in the area has also brought back memories of caring for her nanna before she passed away.
The taster she has had of caring for people, although informally and from afar, has stood Tracey in good stead for her future career. “When you care for someone and they appreciate it, it makes you want to go out and do more. The best part is seeing the smile on their faces. It’s something to put on my CV as I’m thinking of getting a job as a carer in the future. Holbeck Together actually gave me details of local caring jobs, and I passed them on to my daughter who was made redundant earlier in the year and now has a new job!”
Tracey is full of praise for the Holbeck Together staff team. “They’re a really lovely group of people. The Chef, Julie had to shield at the beginning of lockdown, and she even did some cooking from Zoom at home!! When Tracey’s son was ill with Covid, the team encouraged her to stay at home until he was well again. “I didn’t want to let them down, but they didn’t pressure me at all to come back until I was ready. They really do put everyone’s safety first.”
Hopefully one day, Tracey will be able to work alongside her fellow Holbeck Together volunteers, who she always says hi to when collecting meals, but hasn’t had the chance to meet properly. “I hope we can all get together one day soon and clients can have lunch like they did in normal times. It would be really nice to see them all in one place, and have more of a proper chat rather than feeling like I’ve outstayed my welcome on their doorstep!”
2020 wasn’t all doom and gloom for Tracey, as her first grandchild arrived in November. Looking to the year ahead, she is hoping to start a new part time job in a hospital, whilst still volunteering. “I’m definitely going to carry on volunteering at Holbeck Together, even if it’s just for a day a week.”
Tracey hopes other people will continue to volunteer when things eventually start to go back to ‘normal’ and keep up the momentum that has emerged through the pandemic. For anyone else who might be considering volunteering, perhaps if they haven’t done it before, or at least not for a while, Tracey has a clear message. “I’d tell them to definitely do it, they won’t be disappointed.”
About ‘Holbeck Together: Our People’
People are at the heart of our work: our clients, our volunteers, our staff and our partners.
When Covid-19 struck in March 2020, many felt their connection to others under threat. In a phenomenal outpouring of support for one another, the Holbeck community responded in kind. From keeping an eye on neighbours, to picking up shopping and prescriptions, to helping deliver hot meals to those shielding, everyone has played their part in what has been an outstanding team effort.
In this series we want to share some of these stories, to shine a light on the experiences of those who drive the work we do and make it all worthwhile – our people.
Look out for future blogs in the ‘Our People’ series. You can find out more about the services Holbeck Together is operating at the current time on the website here.
About Holbeck Together
Holbeck Together was established as a Neighbourhood Network Scheme in 1992 to support older people living in Holbeck. Drawing on these experiences and expertise, we now welcome people from all generations.
We provide a variety of services, activities and opportunities for people to get involved locally. Many activities are specifically for people in later years of living, others for younger people and some for all ages.