Stories from the crisis

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Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m Phoebe, aged 24. I just moved to Brixton last September, and had been busy moving around working on a few different projects whilst living here. I came to the end of a job just as the virus hit, so it was great to have CHIPS to jump into!

Why did you decide to volunteer for CHIPS?

Like so many other people, I got caught in a sticky situation as the virus hit – suddenly without a full time job, and with a lot of time to help! It was scary watching and knowing the impact the crisis would have on my local community and as a resident I really wanted to find a meaningful way to help people close to home.

So what do you like most about working with CHIPS?

I really wanted to volunteer for CHIPS, because of the meaningful work they do to support the community – which is so rewarding for me as well.

There are a loads of organisations offering crucial help, but CHIPS really allows me to build a relationship with the people I am working with over a longer period of time. That’s so rewarding – the commitment seems well worth it as you begin to build real trust with the families you are supporting.

It’s been great to be able to meet so many of the other local volunteers as well – I feel much more integrated in my local community than before!

What have you been focusing on in your work with CHIPS?

I have been supporting a mother each week in my family support work as well as errand running for another vulnerable family.

Once a week I give my family a call, and we have a chat and talk through any issues they might be having. This can range from anything from practical support they are in need of to emotional support – or sometimes we are both in need of just a good chat!

Sometimes, I’ll follow up the call with some research into help the family needs – matching them up with other services in the area or sending through more detailed information.

Once a week I also do grocery shopping for another family – the mum will send through a grocery list (I’m always trying to guess what meals she is planning for the week!) and I pack them up and bike them round to her.

What has been your personal highlight of the work so far?

It’s definitely been a real highlight to be able to build trust with the families I am helping. I’ve really noticed how much more open my conversations become with the family I support as the weeks go on and we get to know each other better.

This has also happened with the family I get groceries for each week – it’s been a joy to watch the family start recovering from a difficult situation, seeming more relaxed each week. We now have a great chat each week as I take the shopping round – and we’re both very grateful for a bit of real human contact!