As the third lockdown continues across the UK, we’re spending more time at home and constantly looking for things to do. If baking, home workouts, and Netflix have lost their lustre, and you’re keen to use your time more productively, why not look into volunteering?
You may be wondering if it’s possible to volunteer safely during the pandemic, and, thankfully, the answer is yes! Did you know that 10 million people in the UK volunteered during the first lockdown?
While restrictions continue, there are many ways you can still get involved with volunteering, whether that be online or in-person, so you can give back to your community in a way that suits you.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll have lost count of how many daily activities have gone ‘virtual’ since last March; meetings, events, quizzes, lectures…to name a few! And volunteering is no different. Virtual volunteering refers to any volunteer activity that can be completed online using a computer or smartphone.
Like many other organisations, charities and non-profits have had to pivot towards virtual opportunities amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Online volunteering has been welcomed by people in high-risk categories and by those who feel safer at home during these uncertain times.
That’s the beauty of volunteering online – it’s so accessible! Anyone can do it, from any location, all you need is a computer and an internet connection.
So what are the other benefits of virtual volunteering?
There’s no need to commute to a specific location to complete your volunteer duties. This benefit is particularly advantageous during lockdown when only essential journeys are permitted, but it also provides you with so many more opportunities.
Virtual volunteering doesn’t have to be local; you can contribute to charitable causes anywhere in the world. It could be anything from translating documents to mentoring a child overseas.
Short on time but still want to give back? Virtual volunteering has empowered the rise of micro-volunteering, where you dedicate small amounts of time to a short task using a computer or smartphone.
Most activities can be completed in 30 minutes or under and require little to no training, so micro-volunteering is flexible, convenient and fits around your other commitments. Opportunities can be as quick as signing an online petition, while others can require slightly more time, such as writing a blog post. It’s worth bearing in mind that there are offline micro-volunteering opportunities too!
Many people are attracted to virtual volunteering because they can utilise their existing skills. It allows volunteers to donate their knowledge without additional training. Skills-based volunteering is particularly beneficial for university students, recent graduates or the unexpectedly unemployed.
You can gain real-life experience that can be used on your CV while helping charities and nonprofits who can make the most of your skill-set. Examples include creating marketing collateral and mentoring employees.
Virtual volunteering platforms often have an online forum where like-minded individuals can network and make friends. Online networking can be an effective cure for the sense of disconnect and loneliness felt by many of us during the pandemic and allows us to talk to people we may never have had the chance to meet.
Working from home has caused many of us to spend more time in front of the computer; we no longer have the coffee breaks, commutes, and lunch hours that encourage us to get away from the screen.
There are concerns that people may not want to participate in virtual volunteering, as their screen time is already much higher than before. But there are ways you can volunteer remotely without going online!
One way to do so is telephone befriending. Many organisations are seeking volunteers to offer a friendly ear to the elderly who are affected by loneliness and social isolation. Once you’re signed up, schedule a call to check-in on your telephone friend – even this small action can have such a positive impact on people’s lives.
A befriender for Tayside Cancer Support told us ‘I feel like I’m making a difference, however small, in the life of someone struggling with a cancer diagnosis in their life.’
The demand for in-person volunteering has by no means diminished during the pandemic, with one in three UK charities experiencing a spike in demand for their services during the first lockdown.
Volunteers have provided vital frontline support throughout the course of the crisis, helping at food banks, delivering food and medicine to vulnerable people, and so much more.
And it’s not only good for the community, volunteering can have untold benefits for the volunteer themselves, whether it is in-person or virtual.
Although the Government’s advice is to volunteer remotely where possible, in-person volunteering is still an option. But only if you can’t volunteer from home and are not self-isolating.
If you choose in-person volunteering, you must ensure the location is safe, following Covid-secure guidelines and local to where you live.
The organisation you are volunteering for should also promote Hands, Face, Space.
At Social Good Connect, we assist organisations that wish to offer employee volunteering opportunities as part of their corporate social responsibility strategy.
As well as helping businesses to develop their strategy, we also connect their employees to their ideal volunteer opportunities through our search and match platform.
We’re so pleased to work with a wide range of charities so we can offer a variety of in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities.
Keen to get involved? Let your employer know about Social Good Connect or get in touch if you would like to learn more!
Written by Holly Moore.