Feedback from volunteers and moving forward

Here are my minutes from the volunteer jitsi yesterday
https://preview.tinyurl.com/rnbzblf
i’m gonna summarise a few themes.

Driver safety

  • While we have worked really hard on having good hygiene protocols (crucially important given the wider context we are operating in), our deliverer safety protocols are definitely lacking. There was discussion from deliverers that some of the places they were delivering to made them feel very unsafe, and weren’t sure what to do about it.
    A couple of suggestions came up:
  • Deliverers need to be able to say that they don’t want to deliver a package if they sense something might be up. First step should be to return to the vehicle, then call the person working backroom on their shift to explain the situation and have the backroom person call the recipient to see what the story is. If the deliverer feels unsafe they need to be allowed to walk away as a priority.
  • A second suggestion as well is to encourage deliveries in pairs as much as possible. A number of drivers have been doing this already, bringing a friend who they live with (to minimise social distancing issues) to do the deliveries while the other person stays in the car. This also makes things more efficient for those drops where it isn’t easy to park and leave your car to get to a flat etc.

Expanding the project:
The other main area of discussion was around the limits to the project, i’m gonna mainly just list some of the things that were suggested with a couple of comments because i think there are a lot of good ideas but all of them will need more work in their own right.

There were a lot of questions about how we could localise the project to reach more people and make deliveries a much smaller burden with comments like

  • “i’m an ex chef with a level 3 certification so couldn’t i just get doing a big dahl and deliver locally?” seems like a great idea, after all its basically what we did to start this project, we were just able to take advantage of the warehouse cafe’s kitchen.
  • there was talk of coopbrum becoming a network of food hubs that were distributing food to their localities like a tree with branches across the city (i loved the metaphor)

As well as increasing capacity we also looked at the problem from the opposite end, in terms of demand, and making sure we are reaching those with the greatest need. Suggestions were made to contact groups with roots in the most marginalised communities to help get the word out. There were a few responses to this including

  • We do already do this, we’ve had referrals from shelter, anawim, social workers and local councillors. Unfortunately this has also led to the most mistakes in deliveries, where referals have given us incorrect phone numbers or addresses. [To add to this i’d say there’s also been examples of recipients not being aware they were due a delivery or thinking they were due one when we hadn’t be communicated with properly.]
  • Also there are many good reasons why people might not be linked up with those groups, or staying away from them on purpose so self referals are still crucial to the model.
  • There was also suggestions of referring people to food banks, but this was responded to that not only are they already overwhelmed but also because you need vouchers to access them form social workers/universal credit there is too high a barrier to entry for a lot of the people who need it most.

Another point made repeatedly was just that we need more people co-ordinating volunteers, so hopefully those reading this if you have spare time on your hands please get involved at this end.

And finally one clear takeaway was that a lot of people want flyers to distribute so we need to keep going on that.

There were lots of other great points made but i wanted to highlight these discussions because i think there is a lot to get out of them. Please respond to any of the points that were made/add anything you think i missed from the meeting.

It was a really lovely meeting overall, really nice to hear lots of the voices and see how much enthusiasm there is for the project.

Mani.

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Hi, some feedback from the backroom1 shift today:

  • I added a column into ‘orders for solidarity kitchen’ spreadsheet called ‘phone call notes’ as there was no other box to add miscl notes (the notes column is a formula) and i’ve recorded here if we couldn’t get through and left a voicemail or other info you’d want the next backroom volunteer to know at quick glance that doesn’t fit into the handover notes spreadsheet. the reason I thought this was esp useful is it allows you to keep track of whether you weren’t able to get through to a person, it is useful for backroom to know if a person has not been contactable over a significant number of days so we can follow up appropriately. at the moment we’re going off of whether the drop has been collected but this doesn’t give an indicate the communication over the phone to keep up to date.
  • (do we have a protocol for if we can’t get through to someone for a number of days? there are a few people I rang who it looks like haven’t been talked to for 3 days but not sure). if someone becomes ill and we can’t get through, is there a way to check on them to make sure they are safe? is this something we can offer in case someone lives alone and is extrem. vulnerable? at the moment I suppose if they are no longer contactable we would just remove them from the sheet. i’m guessing this is over and beyond what we have capacity for but thought I’d put it out anyway as it could happen).

  • It would be useful to have the ‘previous recipients’ spreadsheet as a sheet in the ‘orders for solidarity kitchen’ main spreadsheet so you can easily copy and paste information across back and forth so it’s all saved in the same space. this would also mean that all personal information which we need to be careful about storing is in the same data file rather than spread across multiple files.

  • there are so many tabs in the ‘orders for solidarity kitchen’ spreadsheet that it might be worth downloading previous days that don’t need to be accessed into a folder on someone’s laptop or another place - if it needs to be kept at all that is- , so there are fewer tabs and it’s more usable.
    (i’m unable to attend the meeting, apologies, as i have a house meeting, but hope it’s somewhat useful!)
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Phone note calls column is a good addition for handover between shifts on the same day. Volunteers the next day will need to clear out some notes that don’t need to be carried on forever, but that’s not a big problem

We don’t, really. I think also it looks like more people haven’t been spoken to than is actually the case because the repeat day wasn’t updated by previous teams (as per the chat the process notes are now clearer on this point). I think drivers usually contact the recipient either by phone or by ringing the doorbell in the evening, apart from a handful where they end up leaving it and report it to dispatch. We don’t have a process for logging this but if a driver came to drop food and the previous day’s food was still on the doorstep that would ring alarm bells (might be too late though). Currently I wouldn’t remove anyone without them telling me to specifically. It’s a worry though… we could make some sort of (nice) three strikes rule where if we couldn’t speak to someone three days in a row then we would get the driver to do a welfare check, but the drivers are already doing a lot of work.

Yeah, I think I’ll try to sort that out today, I don’t see any reason why not to do this

I’ll start doing some sort of weekly archive because you’re right, the spreadsheet is growing beyond reason

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That all makes sense, thanks for the replies Ben!
Perhaps in the future if we have any situations where we can’t reach someone we could try to think about introducing welfare checks but like you say for now we probs need to focus on increasing drivers and capacity before then.

Something came up yesterday at the volunteers feedback meeting that made me think of the “welfare checks” you suggested. It was raised that, as part of our strategy of expansion by including new activities, we could do some mental health checking through phone for people in self-isolation. There were a couple of people willing to explore further the idea, so if you’re interested I can put you in touch.