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Update from HEY Smile Foundation, CEO; Andy Barber

Published at 9:10 am Wed Apr 22nd, 2020

HEY Smile Foundation CEO Andy Barber takes stock and gives thanks for the massive cross sector, community efforts over the current time.

Firstly my huge congratulations to everyone for the collaborative efforts which are supporting our community and ultimately our NHS to remain strong. As I reflect on the last five weeks’ worth of work by us all it seems like such a long period, as so much has been achieved in such difficult circumstances.   

With the government announcing a minimum of another three weeks of lockdown for us all we must remain resilient and bolster our connectivity and processes, whilst also having an eye on being prepared to open the doors and accelerate the support to organisations that aid specifically but not exclusively in the alleviation of social isolation.   


We have been overwhelmed by the response of the community in East Yorkshire. We are now aware of over 2,700 volunteers operating in some capacity across the whole of the East Riding, but also acutely aware that there is a minimum of over 600 people still ready and waiting to volunteer after registering with HEY Smile Foundation or those who have registered on the NHS App from our area.   

To those who are volunteering, thank you! You have achieved so many amazing things, we have seen volunteers save lives, connect those most vulnerable to additional support for now and beyond this crisis. We have seen facetime reassure family members abroad that not only has a volunteer-delivered food but they can see their family member is safe and in good spirits.   

Vitally we have seen thousands of residents connected to the right support. Whether that be emergency food parcels, food banks or a paid-for service for detailed items or a full shop! With medications, we have seen emergencies reacted to, a cancer patient in crisis receiving urgent mediations on a bank holiday, with a volunteer making a long journey to source what was required within hours of the call. The newfound community connectivity is truly magical and will change many lives now and forever.   

To those volunteers not yet contacted or empowered, please bear with us. You are a vital part of the resilience of the whole community. We know you are there ready and willing and that gives huge confidence to our community, emergency planners and the military to be sure we can react to the next phase should it come. Thank you for your patience. The Smile team are connecting with many of you in the coming week, with training opportunities and updates.   

Funding – Text: HIGHFIVER To: 70085, Grants and Support   

I’m very proud to say that we have been able to generate over £400,000 to support our great community groups and charities. Grants were given out from just three days into the crisis and will be pushed out further from w/c 20th April. Firstly, our huge thanks have to go to the wonderful Horncastle Group PLC for the match funding they have provided enabling us to hit this target. Our thanks also go to East Riding Council, Help for Health, Hull and East Riding Charitable Trust, KCOM and Barratt Homes.   

With the Beecan system, we have been able to give grants out within 24hrs of receiving a request for support. This is vital in showing all the groups responding to the emergency needs in our community that as a community and partnership we have your back!   

The HIGHFIVER campaign, gained worldwide recognition with Jacky Crawford from the wonderful Moorlands charity asking Prince William to HIGHFIVER all the East Riding volunteers. We have seen this campaign spread far and wide, from Actors to sports stars and of course royalty! This has led to us hitting a £20k grant pot from HIGHFIVER to which grants of up to £500 are given out at pace for volunteer costs, IT support, refreshments for volunteers and much more.   

We have worked in partnership with funders to establish larger grants some of which have already hit the bank accounts of charities and more will be available from the 20th April. For example, we recognized that many arts organisations are struggling in our area, working with the I Am Fund we will have funds available to support connectivity to members and artists, also support towards some core costs.   

Vitally, yet again this is a collaborative effort via Beecan you can see a wide range of funding available from the Lottery, to the Two Ridings Emergency fund and many more via the website. If your group or charity requires any support or has concerns that you wish to highlight, please don’t hesitate to contact us.    

The well-being of those supporting the community   

From week commencing the 13th April, Smile have invested in Well-being support for group/charity leaders. Many of whom have worked intensely and supported hundreds of volunteers and dealt with many highly emotional situation situations. We now have a free support service for anyone in need of it, fully funded and available over the phone and completely confidential. We invite any group/charity leaders to contact us if they would like more information on this service.   

Connected Services    

The partnership working across the East Riding has been the main stimulus for success to date in fighting this current crisis. We have seen bureaucracy diminished, and true partnership working come into play. With the Voluntary sector in many cases being empowered to take the lead, be an equal partner and from start-up groups to long-established charities all connecting.  

This is we all hope the positive we can take from this terrible situation, HEY Smile is already working tirelessly to ensure the learning and opportunities from this situation are maximised and remain community-led.  

We are in a very strong position as a community, and we are gaining lots of national recognition for how the East Riding community responded.  


This is the biggest fear for us all. We must not let the current strengths in our response, volunteer numbers, funding support and partnership working evolve into collective complacency. We need to remain vigilant, evolve our responses and processes by listening to our residents but also not take any steps back in strengthening our resolve.   

If we become complacent at any level, this will lead to all our collective great work being undone. Rest assured at Smile and our work with partners we will not stand still or take steps back. Thank you all for being a huge part in a system that is in the main working and fighting this situation with incredible strength and resolve. Keep safe and thank you for your amazing efforts.