Tranmere Rovers have joined forces with one of Wirral’s best community support charities to provide assistance to those most in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
With all football matches across the English leagues now suspended, the club has partnered with HelpLink to provide vital services such as assistance with shopping, collecting prescriptions and providing isolated people with someone to talk to.
Rovers’ co-owner and vice chairperson Nicola Palios revealed that once the severity of the on-going situation became apparent, the club wanted to do something to help but quickly realised that tying in with HelpLink would result in a far more efficient operating model.
Speaking exclusively to the Globe, she said: “When it became clear that we were both looking to put a support system in place, to help in the community, we started speaking to each other because we both offer different parts of the jigsaw. We we want to keep volunteers and the people that we are supporting as safe as we can in the current environment.
“What HelpLink lacked was a big social media presence to be able to call for volunteers and get the message out that help is available.
“They have a large bank of volunteers but a lot of them are other the age of 70 and therefore fall into the vulnerable category and won’t be able to support.
“But what they have that we didn’t have is IT systems which are specifically designed to co-ordinate and allocate jobs to all the volunteers.
“The system knows where people are and where people need help, so you can be a lot more efficient about it.
“That’s something that we otherwise would have had to do manually.
“Between the two of us, we thought that we could be a lot more efficient than either organisation could on it’s own.”
Tranmere have already successfully recruited over 150 volunteers significantly improving the reach of the operation.
Sue Davis, of Helplink Community Support, said: “Joining forces with Tranmere means together we can make a much bigger impact on the number of people who are desperate for help in our community.
“Overnight the demand for our services increased and we simply did not have enough volunteers to cope with the demand.
“With Tranmere’s incredible work, new volunteers have stepped forward, but we still need many more.
“Helplink, with our team of amazing volunteers, have been battling social isolation across the Wirral for 23 years and have seen first hand the distress it causes. But the current situation takes it to a whole new level”
All of the volunteers coming through the Tranmere / HelpLink partnership are DBS checked and are provided with an authorisation letter, allowing them to conduct volunteering delivery work.
People with the relevant checks will undertake shopping trips and collecting essential medicine while others can provide befriending services over the phone.
Mark and Nicola Palios, co-owners of Tranmere Rovers. Photo: Paul Heaps
Although satisfied with the operation put in place, Mrs Palios stressed that they are still looking for more volunteers.
She said: “I don’t think anyone really knows what volume we are going to end up with, so the more volunteers we can have ready to deploy as and when needed, the better, because we are very aware that we are going to lose some volunteers who themselves are going to get ill and may have to self-isolate and take themselves out of the loop. It’s quite important that we have plenty in at the top of the funnel.
“It would be a lovely problem to have, to have more volunteers than we need because I think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg so far.”
Anyone interested in joining as a volunteer should email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To download a printable version of Tranmere's support flyer click here.