Chelmsford Community Response: Coronavirus

We are monitoring the Coronavirus pandemic and taking necessary precautions for staff, volunteers and service users in line with the most up to date advice provided by the World Health Organisation and national bodies.

For the welfare of all we are implementing recommendations in all of our working practices as advised which includes avoiding non-essential face to face meetings. For this reason our volunteer drop in will be closed until further notice. However we are still open for business and will do as much as we can by telephone and virtually.

We are working with local Emergency Resilience leads to help co-ordinate community and volunteer responses so please do get in touch if you’d like to help.

Call 01245 280731 to access our Emergency Community Response.

Call 0300 303 9988 to access Essex Welfare Services (and social prescribing support).

Please follow up to date guidance:

The Government have published a helpful FAQ to guide you on what you can and can’t do which you can find here.

Are Volunteers on Lockdown?

Existing GOV.UK coronavirus volunteering guidance pages Coronavirus: How to help safely and Coronavirus (COVID-19) volunteering have been updated in line with the new restrictions which came into force from 5 November.

Where possible, people should volunteer from home. If they cannot do so, they can volunteer outside their home if they follow the social distancing guidance and no-one in their household has symptoms of coronavirus or has tested positive for coronavirus.

People over the age of 60 and those who are clinically vulnerable do not face any specific restrictions on volunteering and should follow the same guidelines as above. However, as this group could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, they may need additional support to follow social distancing rules and minimise contact with others.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people can volunteer from home, however they are advised not to volunteer outside their home.

Where volunteers are able to volunteer outside their home (see above) they can:

  • Meet in groups of any size indoors or outdoors while volunteering
  • Travel to volunteer or while volunteering

Volunteer-involving organisations must ensure their workplaces meet coronavirus safety standards.

NCVO has also published guidance on involving and managing volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic, you can view that here.

How you can help

Thank you so much for your offer to help support those who are most vulnerable in our communities. We are all facing difficult challenges, and it is wonderfully inspiring to see so many come forward to support each other and work together. It is the kindness, time, and energy that you have offered to freely give that will help us get through these unprecedented times.

Our efforts will change and adapt to the situation, and you will be kept updated via email as to new developments and requests for additional help. Please be patient with us as we respond to a very high number of enquiries and requests.

Here are some ways you can help right now:

1. Help by donating food and supplies to local distribution centres

Thousands of vulnerable people across Chelmsford, its villages and South Woodham Ferrers are reliant upon services provided by charities and organisations. These groups themselves are struggling to find what they need in the shops. Donating to a group ensures that essential supplies are being efficiently distributed to as many people as possible, casting a wide net of support over our community.

Donations made to the below points would be very gratefully received.

6 Foodbank Centres in Chelmsford

1. 450A Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, CM2 8RN
2. YMCA- Victoria Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1NZ
3. St Andrews, Chignal Road, Chelmsford, CM1 2JB
4. Bell Street Hall, Bell Street, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, CM2 7JS
5. Grove Road Evangelical, Grove Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0EY
6. New Life Church, Clements Green Lane, South Woodham Ferrers, CM3 5JP UHT

Food Items: Milk, Instant Mash, Tinned Potato, UHT Fruit Juice, Sponge Puddings, Tinned Rice Pudding, Teabags 40s and 80s only, Small/medium jars of coffee. Toilet rolls, large size nappies/pull-ups (5&6).

Further Information:

Phone: 07512 574542



Find opening times here:

Please note that Chelmsford CVS will NOT give out food directly to individuals, we are working with trusted agencies only.

If you need food bank vouchers please contact the Citizens Advice Chelmsford Food Bank voucher telephone service on 01245 205579, Chelmsford Council or the Jobcentre.

2. Help locally

One of the most impactful things you can do is connect and reach out to your neighbours, especially those whom you suspect to be vulnerable or isolated.

Many of these people will not be known to charities or foodbanks, and so a small act of kindness from a stranger could be crucial. Other people in the community who might also appreciate help are:

• stretched medical staff and volunteers
• staff and volunteers in key worker roles, including school teachers
• supermarket workers
• delivery drivers.

If you would like to find your local neighbourhood volunteer group then please call us. We are keeping a directory for the Chelmsford District.

Please ensure that you follow national guidance with regards to hygiene and social distancing. Wear gloves when handling shopping, use wipes and hand-gel. Avoid or minimise all time spent with the person at their front door.

Please see the bottom of this page for tips on how you can keep safe whilst volunteering.

3. Volunteer for the Chelmsford Community Response Hub

If you’d like to volunteer with the Chelmsford Community Response Hub then please contact Sally at

4. Be a Telephone Befriender

Lockdown has both highlighted and exacerbated the number of people who struggle with loneliness, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, all that’s needed to prevent this is a simple conversation with someone kind and cheerful. Telephone Befrienders provide company, reassurance, and light-hearted conversation to people who are alone and worried.

You can volunteer from your home, making calls as and when it suits your schedule. Contact Sally at

5. Volunteer for the NHS

The NHS is “rallying the troops” for the war on coronavirus, with volunteers being called up to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home. Sign up here:

NHS Volunteer Responders is not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS.

6. Sign Up for Help

To provide further help to those who may be vulnerable you can sign up and/or contact the following:

Government – Register if you have a medical condition that makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. For example, you’ll be able to ask for help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food. If you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you extremely vulnerable, register anyway. You can register yourself, or on behalf of someone else. Register here:

Red Cross – Be a Community Reserve Volunteer and be deployed at times of crisis to provide essential help to local communities. Sign up here:

NHS Blood Donation – Blood donation saves lives. If you are fit and well, please #KeepDonating. Blood donation is essential travel under the category of “medical need and helping a vulnerable person”. 💉 For more information see:

7. Donate to Local organisations

It is with no surprise that local organisations are going to struggle in the weeks and months ahead because of the need for many of them to halt fundraising events. Without support for fundraising these organisations simply cannot survive, so they need your help more than ever. If you can spare a few pounds to help these organisations then please click here to be taken to a page including a list of organisations that have put a call out for help.

8. Mental Health Support

We understand that it is only natural to feel concerned in these uncertain times particularly when the situation is changing rapidly. Mid and North East Essex Mind are taking all the appropriate recommended precautions provided by the NHS and the UK government. Nationally, Mind has produced some advice on keeping well during the outbreak and periods of social distancing and isolation. This can be found here:

Mid and North East Essex Mind can currently offer:

Private Telephone Counselling – Mind is currently able to offer telephone counselling within their fee-paying service; this is a confidential service which can be accessed by anyone over the age of 18 years. Whether you are currently looking for a counsellor or have found yourself in need due to the recent COVID- 19 outbreak you can speak to us on 01206 764600 or visit for more information.

Online Mental Health Support – Support can be accessed by anyone living in Mid Essex experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression and anyone living with a chronic illness. Each user will be allocated modules tailored to their needs which they can complete in their own time with the help of our Silvercloud supporters. There is more information available here:

9. Key websites

Essex County Council dedicated page to coronavirus updates in relation to Essex and impacts on Essex County Council Services (Schools, Adult Social Care, Libraries):

Chelmsford City Council dedicated page to coronavirus updates in relation to City Council services

How you can keep safe while Volunteering

Please note this is guidance only. If you are not directly volunteering for an organisation, then you are responsible for your own wellbeing and your own actions. Please keep your own safety first and foremost in mind.

Staying Safe video:

Please see the NCVO Guidance here.

How do we stay safe when supporting others?

Please make sure you follow all NHS & Government instruction regarding hygiene and social distancing:

If you, or someone you live with, has any of the 2 current symptoms for COVID-19 (a new, persistent cough or a temperature of 37.8 degrees or more) then please inform us at once that you will not being able to continue to offer help.

1. Keep washing your hands often for 20 seconds.
2. Stay at least two metres – about three steps – away from people you’re helping.
3. If you’re trying to help someone with very serious issues – don’t be afraid to flag with appropriate statutory services.
4. Support family, friends and neighbours by phone or video call.
5. Stay outside of people’s homes. Leave packages at the door, knock and then step two metres back.
6. Let a friend or family member what you’re doing and when. Arrange for one of them to call you continuously if you have not checked back in after a visit.
7. Don’t take on too much – it’s often better not to offer at all than to let someone down.

How do we keep people’s personal details safe?

• Always consider carefully whether someone’s details need to be shared before doing so. It’s important that information is only ever available to those who really need it to provide support.
• Never publish personal information on public forums such as social media. These forums can be a vital way to connect people at this difficult time but keep any personal information to controlled, private forums (such as Whatsapp groups) and even then only if necessary.
• If you feel that you need to refer someone onto another service (The Red Cross, Adult Social Care, The CVS etc) then make sure you have their permission to do so. Explain fully and clearly who you would like to contact and make a note of their verbal consent. Do not share any further than where they have agreed.

We are dealing with money, what should we know?

Although 99.9% of people who want to help the elderly and vulnerable are genuine, there will also be a small number of individuals who are using the current situation to exploit those in need for financial gain.

Confirm a budget with the person you are shopping for. Consider donating the supplies if you can, but if not, establish in advance how payment will be handled.

Ask for a duplicate receipt at the till or take a photo with your phone; one for the recipient and one for your own records.

Encourage people NOT to give out their bankcards and PIN numbers. Alternatives would be a cheque, or online banking (some local groups have purchased card-readers, or set up Pay-Pal accounts). In other cases people can pay the shop or supplier directly over the telephone in advance.

Marks & Spencer and ASDA have both launched contactless volunteer shopping cards, where the cards are bought online, topped up with credit and then a barcode can be emailed to a volunteer which can be used to pay for shopping.

If cash is truly your only option then arrange to make exchanges at a safe distance (leaving an envelope and receipt on the door mat and stepping back). Wear gloves at all times, and carry wipes to wipe clean coins and notes.

We are picking up prescriptions, what should we know?

In terms of risk the danger of harm is likely to be high if someone doesn’t receive the medication they need.  In addition, some of the prescriptions that you may end up collecting have a potential high street value. It is also possible that due to a dispensing error some prescriptions might be incomplete leaving you vulnerable to an accusation of theft. It is worth considering the following guidance:

• The recipient should have called ahead to the pharmacy to give permission for a (named) volunteer to collect on their behalf.
• Prescriptions should be picked up in pairs (while maintaining a social distance).
• The NHS and Red Cross both have dedicated prescription delivery services. Please contact us on 01245 280731 to refer people to them.

Do I have to be DBS checked?

The Disclosure and Barring Scheme (DBS) helps ensure people whose behaviour makes them unsuitable to work with children and protected adults cannot do ‘regulated work’ with these vulnerable groups. The DBS have produced a factsheet for community volunteers during the Covid-19 outbreak.

There are several support activities which do not require a DBS check such as shopping, cash handling, having access to people’s details, and dog walking. Nonetheless you should carefully risk assess these activities and consider what other safeguarding measures are appropriate such as working in pairs (whilst maintaining social distance), keeping detailed records of exchanges, and taking copies of all receipts.