THE overwhelming work of volunteers has helped some of Bradford’s most vulnerable people through the challenges faced during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Bradford Foundation Trust and Bradford 4 Better (B4B) have played a key role in co-ordinating the efforts of those who wanted to step up and make a difference.

The Covid-19 response, led by the Bradford Foundation Trust, included more than 50 businesses, 30 voluntary sector organisations and over 1,000 volunteers.

The plan was approved by Bradford Council and grew to include the Council itself, the NHS, the Council for Mosques, Volunteer Bradford, Community Action Bradford and District (CABAD), Bradford for Everyone and B4B.

All organisations worked together to support vulnerable people affected by the pandemic and share vital communications.

B4B played a lead role in developing an app to recruit volunteers and had more than 500 people register in the first three days of launch.

Founder Inayah Sher said: “I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people in Bradford, for the first few weeks of the pandemic the calls and messages of support and offers of help and donations toward the NHS were constant.”

The core team at B4B, led by Kashif Ahmed, worked with Volunteer Bradford and CABAD to develop the back-end infrastructure to manage the volunteer data.

The volunteer system is still in use today and includes volunteers recruited through the Council - collectively more than 2,000 Bradfordians came forward.

Kashif, a lead solution analyst at Experian, said: “I am really proud to have had the opportunity to represent B4B and volunteer my time, skills and contacts to lead on the development of systems to manage recruitment of volunteers.

“I worked with Soo Nevison from CABAD and Steve Blackman from Volunteer Bradford, as well as my team Abida, Zanaib and Yasar who all worked around the clock.

“Due to the sheer volume of volunteers in such a small-time frame I supported in migrating this platform to a purpose-built CRM system to support the five local hubs set up by Bradford Council.”

The Bradford Foundation Trust committed to leading on supporting asylum seekers, refugees and those with no recourse to public funds.

Over the last 12 weeks, it has supported more than 300 destitute households in Bradford, including over 240 adults and 400 children.

This effort was managed by a team of volunteers and included weekly calls with agencies and Council staff, making referrals to the service, regular befriending calls to households and weekly food distribution.

Naveed Khan, Founder of EnKahnz, which specialises in vehicle customisation and accident repair work, said: “When the pandemic started I gave out health and safety essentials as there were elderly people who couldn’t get access to it and I thought it was my own social and corporate responsibility to do my best to help them as a business.”

He added: “I then joined the Bradford Foundation Trust coalition and the support that we got from the community was phenomenal with a lot of businesses and volunteers coming to help us.”

They were also able to give financial help to those in need and help people through initiatives like giving out tablets to disadvantaged families who were struggling.

The volunteer team made more than 2,200 phone calls, delivered over 2,000 food parcels, gifted toys and tablets to over 500 children, received more than £250,000 in funding and donations and led on bringing the community together for a Bradford-wide ‘fastathon’ Fasting Friday which raised an extra £7,500 for good causes.

Gulsoom Akhtar, who works as a neighbourhood engagement worker for Better Start Bradford in West Bowling, said: “It has been a pleasure to volunteer for Bradford Foundation Trust and support vulnerable families most in need, providing a weekly befriending support service for families who are suffering from depression, anxiety, isolation, stress and ill health.

“The messages and feedback from families who have received food, tablets and toys have been very touching, knowing how grateful and happy it made

the families.”

Shadim Hussain, board member at the Bradford Foundation Trust, said the power of volunteering was “phenomenal” and thanked ‘Team Bradford’ for its amazing efforts.

Throughout this time, the Trust said it had “numerous stories that encapsulate the essence of community spirit and people coming together as one to help at a time of uncertainty, anxiety and economic turmoil and pave the way for a better future”.