Isolation diary: Helping the party

I was actually thinking of The Party, as in the Liberal Democrats, rather than the many Houseparty calls that are happening. My older grandson introduced us to the latter and is busy organising slightly chaotic family get-togethers each day.

There are three main tasks that I do these days for my local party, and am still doing through the crisis. Firstly, I send out a weekly newsletter to our members, registered supporters and non-member volunteers, and this has been more important than ever during the last few weeks. We are encouraging people to volunteer through the local initiatives and also offering contacts for people who need help.

Secondly, I am the organiser for my ward. The main task I have done in the current crisis is to set up a minivan list on Connect so our councillors can phone elderly people and offer help – there is a coronavirus script available.  The original idea was to drop the #viralkindness postcards through doors, hence a list rather than a virtual phone bank, although other wards have now set up phone banks. The councillors have been really pleased to find that almost everyone is being supported by neighbours and friends, but they have been able to link up people to the volunteer networks when needed.

Thirdly, I co-ordinate the approval and selection of Council candidates. We elect every four years, with the next elections in 2022. For the last year we have been asking new members if they are interested in standing for Council, and I have been following up with a chat over coffee. Although face-to-face meetings are obviously on hold, I am still having a few conversations with potential candidates by phone. Indeed, as lockdown becomes the new normal I may well invite expressions of interest again through the weekly newsletters.

It goes without saying that our first priority now must be to help in our communities, but there are limits to what we can do if we are in self-isolation. The government has suggested we use our time at home to develop our hobbies and learn new skills. Political campaigning is our hobby, so let’s do both and do some online party training.

Before getting started it is worth contacting your local party to find where the gaps are that need filling. Does it need more people who can use Connect, NationBuilder or Lighthouse? Does it need more canvassers, Focus designers or email writers? The party has recently changed its preferred publishing software from PagePlus to Affinity so now might be a good time to learn it. Whatever the need, the party offers online training.

The training modules are available in the members’ area of the party’s website, via the Lib Dem Learning page. Most training topics are supported by Facebook groups.

Our party depends on the skills volunteered by its members and supporters, so let’s come out of this stronger and more resilient.

 


Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.

 

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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