A University of Worcester student has been giving up her time to ensure vulnerable people across Worcester do not feel helpless and alone.
Mother-of-two, Lisa-Marie Vaughan, has been volunteering with the Worcester Community Trust, offering her services in the pandemic crisis, after her placement there as part of her studies ended.
“I feel glad to have been able to help even in a small way to support people,” said the 40-year-old, of St John’s, Worcester. “It’s in my nature that I like to help people. I would like to think that if I was in a situation where I needed help someone would help me. It was more of a privilege.”
The Trust is a charity that runs six community centres across the City providing facilities for community use, activities and services. First year student Lisa Marie, who is doing a Foundation Degree in Mental Health, has been on placement with them since October last year, working on projects focused on empowering women.
But when that ended and the coronavirus took hold, she agreed to come back to help. With the Trust’s regular support meetings on hold, Lisa-Marie joined a team of people calling up the hundreds of people it looks after to establish what package of care they would need. Clients include the elderly, survivors of domestic abuse, people in isolation due to circumstances, such as their health, and those who were, until recently, homeless. This could be providing them with a hot meal, essential supplies, crafts or plants to keep them occupied, ensuring they had access to television or radio and putting them in touch with other organisations.
For four weeks Lisa-Marie then took responsibility for contacting 15 individuals regularly and ensuring they had what they had asked for and resolving any problems. But the calls were also giving people someone to talk to. Her caseload took four to five hours a day, which she completed alongside her studies and caring for her two children full-time, as her husband is a key worker.
She said: “I found it enjoyable but also interesting dealing with more diverse groups of people. In terms of my studies, it’s been interesting because it’s a different way of delivering the service and it obviously changes the way in which you communicate with people because they cannot see you.
“It was an essential role to be carried out because an organisation such as the Trust, and others like it, allows people not to fall through the cracks. It’s consistency of care.”
Lisa-Marie has continued to help one elderly woman living nearby informally, who she phones every few days and brings regular supplies to with help from son Loki-Ivor, 5, and daughter Aria-Jae, 3.
“I say to them this is their superhero training, helping people that need you,” added Lisa-Marie. “They enjoy it; they have even sometimes worn superhero outfits.”