If, like so many others across the country, you are wondering how you can get involved and volunteer now, we have some tips and advice to help you get started.
Nothing brings people together like a crisis and we have seen this to be true across the globe over the last few weeks.
The demand for volunteers has never been greater as so many of us are confined to our homes, unwell, and unable to access basics such as food and medicine. At the same time, the outpouring of support from people across the world has been amazing, with volunteer groups popping up left, right, and centre.
Where do I start?
While it is incredible to see so many communities coming together to help their neighbours, and so many groups forming to offer wider support, it does make it tricky to know how or where to begin!
Here is a list of the best places to look for volunteer opportunities now.
The Scottish Government have pulled this platform together in record time to address the need for volunteers and to help co-ordinate their efforts.
On this site, former health or social care workers can sign up to return to work and do their bit to help current NHS staff ease the incredible strain on the system that Covid-19 has created.
People who are willing to help in crisis response situations can volunteer to become Red Cross Reserve volunteers, a programme that drafts volunteers in to help their communities in times of emergency.
You can also sign up through our partners, Volunteer Scotland, to become a coronavirus volunteer in your area or even donate to the national emergencies fund which will be distributed to third-sector organisations in need of support.
If you are based in England, and not in a high-risk category, you can sign up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder.
They are mainly looking for volunteers to deliver medicine from pharmacies, drive patients to appointments, bring people home from hospital, as well as telephone check ups on people isolating at home.
The Trussel Trust have created an online platform with Assemble to match volunteers to foodbanks in need of extra support.
They principally need people to help sort and pack donations in warehouses, collect donations from supermarkets, and deliver food to those who need it most.
They are taking extra precautions and following government advice to ensure the safety of both their users and their volunteers. If you are unable to help out in person, you should still consider donating either money or food to your local foodbank. You can check what foodstuffs are most needed at your local bank by entering your postcode here.
In a testament to human kindness, Volunteer Matters have been so inundated with applications that they have no volunteer roles currently available on their site. However, you can use their links to find a volunteer centre local to you.
Keep checking back on the site to see if anything changes but finding local opportunities is by far the most effective way to support your community.
Covid-19 Mutual Aid are helping to coordinate local community groups across the country and make it easier for people to find them.
They are run entirely by volunteers, not medical professionals and they are simply trying to facilitate and support the development of community groups across the country.
They have been set up very quickly in the last few weeks and are constantly updating their processes. Head to their website and use their finder tool to help with a community group in your area.
Look out for your neighbours
By far the simplest and most immediately impactful way to support communities during this pandemic is to start with your neighbours.
Think of anyone you know who is in an at-risk group, or living alone, or working from home while simultaneously trying to home-school their children. These people might need support with food deliveries, medicines, or even just in need of some human interaction over the phone. No help is too big or too small.
Consider delivering postcards through the letterboxes of houses in your immediate vicinity with your contact details and the things you are willing or able to help out with. You never know who could do with a bit of extra support right now.
These are just some of the ways you can get involved with volunteering right away. The level of community spirit and support that has been demonstrated worldwide over the last few weeks is admirable and really shows the power of human kindness. These difficult times are an opportunity to band together, to help each other out, and to come out the other side stronger for it.
Please get in touch if you have any other questions about how to get involved with volunteering.
Written by Betty Henderson