Volunteering during Lockdown

Like everyone, I’ve found the past few weeks very challenging.  So much of my role is about supporting volunteers face to face and online.  We have had to cancel all of our face to face events for March and April and we’ve had to switch most of our work online. I’m very proud and thankful of our three Helpline Volunteers (Anne, Celia and Claire) who have taken to answering Helpline queries at home, like ducks to water! This is in part due to the support of our Senior Helpline Advisor, Sharon, who spent much of mid-March liaising with our call handling company and our IT support guys, while putting together individual information packs for our Helpline volunteers to access at home.   Many of our other volunteers, whose roles are face to face, either in group or one to one settings, are currently what I would term as ‘resting’. I’ve really missed the informal opportunities to catch up with our volunteers at events and meetings. However, I will look forward to our overdue catch up meetings once we are out of this lockdown period. We are in the process of piloting a couple of our volunteer-led events online, so we shall see how they go over the next few weeks. We recently recruited six new volunteers to our Helpline and Mentor roles. When the lockdown was announced, our new volunteers were part-way through their recruitment and induction period. Their PVG membership or update forms (sometimes called police checks) were sent off mid-March. I’m still unsure when they might be returned, as coronavirus volunteering roles are (rightly) being prioritised at present.  This wait for PVG certificates can be a tricky time in the best of times, as volunteers are keen to get started in their roles. I’m hopeful that these new volunteers will continue on through these unpredictable times to become the great volunteers that I can envision them being. One of our new volunteers was recruited just around the time of the lockdown, so I’ve quickly had to revamp some of our recruitment and training processes. This was the first time that I have interviewed and provided induction training online. As a person who enjoys the opportunity to meet new people, I’ve had to adapt to the challenges of ‘meeting’ with her online. I’m relieved that she has been very understanding about the delays to getting her started in her role.  It’s been heartening to see so many people getting involved in volunteering in their local communities over the past few weeks.  In Scotland, around 28% of the adult population volunteer and this figure has been fairly constant for around 10 years. I’m hopeful that this figure might increase once we are released from lockdown.  We will all be changed by this lockdown experience. A crisis in our lives can lead to a growth period afterwards.  I’m hopeful that people will remember the kindness in their communities and seek out new ways to help and volunteer in the future. If you would like to read more about volunteering, please see these blogs by Volunteer Scotland: https://www.volunteerscotland.net/about-us/news-blog/our-blog/ Blog by Helen Fleming, Volunteers Manager