June 1st -7th is national Volunteers’ Week, giving us the perfect opportunity to celebrate all the wonderful people who offer up their time and expertise to help others and to encourage others to volunteer for a good cause. Because of Coronavirus, this year is a little different since lots of people who would normally volunteer are currently unable to due to shielding and self-isolation advice. However, there are still lots of ways you can volunteer to make a positive impact in these circumstances and beyond!
We’ve rounded up four ways volunteers have been making an impact in lockdown to give you some ideas for getting involved yourself. What better time to start than during Volunteers’ Week?
Volunteer in your community
Our communities need us now more than ever. The NHS received over 750,000 applications when it asked for people to volunteer to deliver food and medication to their vulnerable neighbours. Registration for this scheme has been paused due to the overwhelming response, but we’ve also seen the rise of more than 700 mutual aid groups in the UK, which offer similar services and are still seeking local volunteers. Tasks could be as simple as picking up some extra items at the supermarket or having a phone call with someone isolating on their own who may be feeling lonely and just want someone to have a chat with. And if you’re a sewing whizz, why not volunteer to sew face masks for those who need them?
The British Red Cross has opportunities for people to sign up as a Community Reserve Volunteer to help people in crisis in their own communities. At the moment they’re responding to the pandemic, but they also support people who have lost their home due to flooding or a fire or any other crisis. So far 70,000 people have signed up and you don’t need any specialist skills to volunteer.
Help a local food bank
With over millions of people living on the breadline in the UK before the pandemic hit, food banks are seeing a huge increase in demand. Reduced wages and the complete loss of jobs have left those who were just about managing entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers. Check your local foodbank to see if they need volunteers to help with sorting, packing and delivering food parcels. . If there aren’t volunteering opportunities they would definitely appreciate donations of food, toiletries and other items, so it might be worth giving them a call or checking their website before you head to the supermarket to see what they need most. You can find your nearest food banks and their contact details here.
We understand that not everyone is able to or comfortable with volunteering in person at the moment, but there are plenty of ways you can help out from home! Shout is just one example. It’s a free 24-7 text messaging service offering instant support to those suffering with mental health crises. The service provides volunteers with 25 hours of training, meaning you’ll be able to pick up a new skillset while you’re helping others.
CHD Living has launched a fantastic initiative called the ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ scheme, which pairs volunteers with care home residents for regular video calls. Lots of other voluntary services and charities are looking for virtual help too, so check in with your favourite organisations to find out how you can help from home.
Clean up your local area
If you’re able to get out and about, why not consider doing a #2MinLitterPick in your local area or, if you live near the beach, a #2MinBeachClean.
Don’t forget to follow safety advice, such as staying 2m apart from others, wearing a mask and gloves and not sharing your cleaning equipment with others. If the bins are full, take the litter home to put in your own bins and don’t forget to sort anything that can be recycled.