Greater than the sum of our hearts

How GoodGym had been working together with the British Red Cross

July 07, 2020

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As early as 2016, The British Red Cross has been supporting the development of GoodGym across the UK, and helping us to understand what it means to work collaboratively with charity and voluntary sector partners to make sure GoodGym runners are connecting with people who need the most support.

Now, as the sector responds to the challenges of Covid-19, both partners are seeing the benefits of investing in developing this relationship

Across our 58 active GoodGym communities, we work with hundreds of partners helping them to deliver services and support to older neighbours at risk of the effects of loneliness and isolation. We're proud that we can count on the friendship of organisations that are not only local but also have a national reach as well. One of these national partners is the British Red Cross who not only provide vital relief support during disasters or emergencies, they also play a wide ranging role in supporting people (many of them older) to return home from hospital and live independently in their homes.

It is through these independent living services that GoodGym has been able to understand how our community can make big differences to the lives of our neighbours usually through relatively small tasks. The British Red Cross were amongst the first to introduce us to the idea that runners could play a role in getting someone home from hospital quicker, either by helping to clear rooms so that medical furniture could be installed safely, or creating better environments for older people to recover at home. It's exciting to see GoodGym runners working directly with volunteers and staff from British Red Cross to provide a quicker and more rounded level of support to people at a particularly vulnerable time.

The British Red Cross has also helped GoodGym to think differently about how we can help in the community and respond to evolving needs. There's been no better example of this than the challenges presented by Covid-19. As lockdown hit, we knew that many people would struggle to get out to the shops and have basic supplies in the home. Pre-Covid, we didn't have the processes, or the experience to carry out shopping or prescription pick ups for neighbours. Through the support, guidance and positive encouragement of our partners at British Red Cross we were able to implement a new set of training guidelines for our runners and start taking referrals for these tasks within less than a week.

Because of this change, we have been able to help services manage the avalanche of demand presented by people isolating due to Covid-19, such as the British Red Cross First Call service in Bristol. In the words of Emma Griffiths, the Service Manager for this prototype independent living service:

"First Call and Goodgym have connected with each other during COVID-19 to support our local community. By referring into GoodGym it has given us extra capacity to support others that are in need. Since the 16th March we have made 196 referrals into GoodGym and together have supported people experiencing hardship with shopping/ delivering food parcels to them, equipment deliveries and set ups while a patient is in hospital such as rearranging furniture- for example moving bed from upstairs to downstairs to enable a discharge. We've also helped guide patients through how to use technology to reconnect with family/friends. We look at GoodGym as being our ‘extra branch from our service’ ."

What we have learned is that to achieve this sort of relationship, taking the time to understand each other is key, both on a professional and personal level. We would like to thank our friends at British Red Cross Jon, Kate, Emma, Lauren and Ryan for your faith and investment in us. When we all work together bringing our own unique strengths to the table we are not only greater than the sum of our parts, with kindness at the core the impact is greater than the sum or our hearts.

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Have your own GoodGym story to share with the community? Email and we'll be in touch.
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