Why Volunteering Matters More Than Ever
Why Volunteering Matters More Than Ever
Volunteering and community spirit are vital during the uncertain times ahead. The public’s response to calls for volunteers across community support, healthcare and social care has surged in response to the coronavirus crisis. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, issued a request for 250,000 people to donate their time to help the 1.5 million vulnerable people who have to self-isolate for 12 weeks. More than 500,000 people signed up in just 24 hours! This is testament to the power of voluntary action and the vital role it plays in our society in times of crisis.
The Government recognised that volunteers will play key roles in health and social care in today’s government announcement. This guide will explore some of the key considerations for organisations and individuals can make an impact through volunteering during the coronavirus crisis.
Help in your community
The simplest way you can volunteer during lockdown is by looking out for the self-isolating, neighbours and vulnerable people in your local community. Despite there being tighter restrictions on leaving the home across the UK, you can help with shopping, delivering care packages, prescriptions and other responsibilities to vulnerable people who cannot get out of the house. You can also provide support to named keyworkers. Keyworkers who may need additional support at this time are:
- medical staff and volunteers
- care staff and volunteers in key worker roles
- food production and supermarket staff
- logistics workers and delivery drivers
All community-based volunteers are still expected to follow Government and public health advice, practice social distancing and only leaving home to provide key support to vulnerable people.
NHS Volunteer is a landmark volunteering campaign which looks to support the 1.5 million people in the UK who have underlying medical conditions who have been asked to remain at home for the next 12 weeks. It is also designed as a support structure to reduce pressure on the NHS and its staff.
Volunteers must be 18 or over, fit and well and have no coronavirus-related symptoms. Those in higher-risk groups (including those over 70, those who are pregnant or with underlying medical conditions) will be able to offer support to others remotely by telephone.
Community response volunteer: This role involves collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating and delivering these supplies to their home.
Patient transport volunteer: This role supports the NHS by providing transport to patients who are medically fit for discharge and ensuring that they are settled safely back into their home.
NHS transport volunteer: This role involves transporting equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites, it may also involve assisting pharmacies with medication delivery.
Check-in and chat volunteer: This digital and remote role provide short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness because of self-isolation
Important Considerations for volunteers
Charities, government, health organisations and local authorities are working on ways for people to donate their time and skills. However, it’s very important for organisations and individuals to consider the risks before committing their time:
- SCVO and NCVO have stated that organisations with volunteers aged over 70 years old or with underlying medical issues must be told to stop working and encouraged to self-isolate. New and existing volunteers must still follow government and public health advice even while volunteering, as an organisation you must ask them to stop.
- Alternatively, you could offer remote or digital volunteering roles that can be done anywhere, anytime – this will allow those who are self-isolating to continue to support your organisation. If your organisation is closing services, it may be useful to share your pool of volunteers with a charity that is delivering front line support. It is important to consider risk and safety of those volunteering and those who need to access services.
You can sign up to become an NHS Volunteer Responder at goodsamapp.org/NHS. To keep up to date with the latest in mobile tech and updates for the third sector, subscribe to the GoodCall mailing list below.
Furloughed by Your Employer? Try Volunteering!
Employees around the country now being encouraged to volunteer during their time away from work. It is a wonderful way to network and connect with people who you would never have had the chance to work with otherwise.
The Government is engaging furloughed workers to do commit to voluntary work in their communities to help curd the spread of the virus under its new Job Retention Scheme. The scheme enables employers to significantly cut back on staff costs by temporarily suspending employment until workers can return, instead of having to lay them off.
Guidance on the scheme published by HM Revenue & Customs confirms that furloughed employees are able to take part in volunteer work, providing this does not provide services to or generate revenue for their employers.
If you are a business owner or employee looking to connect your staff with volunteer opportunities, a new Dundee-based start up is making this easier for everyone. Social Good Connect is a brand new platform that will help businesses connect with volunteering opporunities. It enables you and your team to make a positive impact in society. The platform will be launched very soon and they are looking to engage businesses and charities alike to tap into the huge potential of those skilled workers looking to do good in their communities. You can read more about Social Good Connect here: https://socialgoodconnect.org/