Volunteering Through Covid

Covid has made volunteering difficult for charities at a time when they need volunteer support the most.   I want to start 2021 by reflecting on the innovative ways our volunteering partners have continued to provide volunteer support to their communities.  It also provided a great way to get colleagues volunteering towards a common goal and strengthening their collective mental health and well-being.  This is only possible with the engagement of our community partners who embraced the opportunities and went the extra mile to make it possible for their service users.  They have all been truly amazing.

Necessity may well be the mother of invention for some, but for us partnerships that are the mother of invention.  We embarked upon the remote volunteering journey some two years ago to help Lloyds Banking Group engage and support remote communities beyond the physical reach of local colleagues.  Being able to offer colleagues extensive access to rewarding individual online volunteering activities, and remote team volunteering activities, was born through the aspiration of our client and their trust and confidence in us to deliver it.  It was this trust that enabled amazing volunteering to continue through Covid.

Whilst practical volunteering remains permissible throughout the lockdown most companies have taken the pragmatic view to promote individual online or remote team volunteering, this is what they did.  Individual volunteers have analysed retina images to annotate signs of diabetes, they have mapped the impact of global warming on kelp forests, they have selected a host of skills opportunities created specifically for their chosen charity of the year, and they have plucked a virtual bauble off a virtual Christmas tree and opened it to send a parcel or card to an elderly person at risk of loneliness or social isolation.  Teams have taken part in remote STEM enterprise volunteering with young people and helped them with a range of future skills.  They have spent a virtual companionship day at care homes having virtual coffee mornings and memory clinics with the elderly.  They have listened and supported charities through our Covid-19 recovery workshops and have been a rock to community leaders who are under enormous stress and mental health pressures. 

The digital world enables us to volunteer together with colleagues from across the world, true inclusiveness and provision of the same volunteering opportunities to all.  It has been an education hearing about how Covid has affected people in the 42 countries we are now reaching, but there is still more to do.

Covid has proven that volunteering has no boundaries, the digital space has made it even easier to make a difference and I believe we are only scratching the surface.  Volunteering time remains an important metric but measuring volunteering in terms of social impact is becoming even more significant.  It is a challenging start to the year but I am so excited about the road ahead and look forward to seeing where it takes us.