Keeping people connected is key aim of new Guernsey Voluntary Service chairman

FOCUSING on keeping people connected during the pandemic is the key aim of the Guernsey Voluntary Service’s new chairman, Matt Watson.

Managing Covid has no blueprint, according to new Guernsey Voluntary Service chairman Matt Watson, who said the organisation’s key role is to make sure people are connected. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28853497)
Managing Covid has no blueprint, according to new Guernsey Voluntary Service chairman Matt Watson, who said the organisation’s key role is to make sure people are connected. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28853497)

A director of the charity for almost four years, now he has taken on the task of organising this huge volunteer body.

Decisions made as the pandemic unfolds will be key, including the recent one to close the day centres due to unidentified community seeding.

‘Like many people, at the moment our biggest challenge is managing an organisation of our size through Covid, which is an evolving challenge,’ said Mr Watson.

With the Meals on Wheels scheme, two day centres and auxiliary services, GVS has one of the largest volunteer bases.

‘At the heart of GVS is that it’s a place for people to socialise. Because of Covid that is difficult in this environment.

‘Meals are delivered to a huge amount of people on a daily basis, which is complicated by keeping a two-metre distance.

‘As things get back to normal, ancillary services, like our bathing services, all add to our core to help people socialise.’

Short-term plans include outreach work.

‘Our main focus is to make sure that people are connected and not feeling lonely or isolated. This is always our first port of call. Ensuring people know how to get in touch is a huge part.

‘Making sure we are visible, letting younger people with older relatives and friends know that we’re here if needed is also key.’

Ideas are in place for the future, but have been paused.

‘We have had to put all future plans in a box and currently focus on Covid. Managing Covid has no blueprint and different organisations take different approaches.

‘Much of my work will be behind the scenes, but I will be making critical decisions. This is a tough time for people of all ages, so it’s important to help where we can.’

Mr Watson recently discovered his grandmother had attended the day centres.

‘It’s nice to know I have that connection. I’ve always felt Guernsey has been good to me. I’ve had every opportunity I could have wanted.’

Involved with various charities from a young age, he grew up in the island, works in finance, formerly was the Guernsey hockey team captain and is married with an 18-month old son.

Those working at GVS drew him in and humbled him.

‘It says a lot about us as a community in how we look after other people. There’s a really great group of people who steer the charity through what has undoubtedly been an exceptionally challenging time.’

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