Volunteer reading a book to a group of older people

Getting ready to re-start volunteering

Published: 29/07/20 | Categories: Author: Fiona Liddell

As we gradually ease out of lockdown from the Coronavirus pandemic during the coming months, we look forward to involving volunteers once again and re-starting some of the activity which has had to be paused. Fiona Liddell, Helpforce Cymru Manager at WCVA, discusses the way forward and identifies some useful resources.

It will not be a straight-forward return to normal, we can be sure. Felicitie (Flik) Walls and I have discussed in a recent podcast some of the ways in which Covid-19 has affected the availability volunteers, the activities that can be carried out and the shape of volunteering in the future.

Some of the key points are summarised in a blog by Flik – Preparing to volunteer after lockdown.

Since then we have been working with colleagues in volunteer centres and in Welsh Government to produce guidance entitled Volunteering and easing out of lockdown. This includes FAQs and an extensive list of sources of further information.

There are links to the latest Welsh Government guidance on different topics, for example and to detailed guidance aimed at particular sectors including charity retail, befriending, gardens and city farms, community transport and community centres.

A confident and systematic approach to risk management

Two things are needed as we try to find the best way forward:  the first is a confident and systematic approach to identifying, assessing and managing risks.

Our information sheet includes reference to numerous examples of approaches to risk assessment that are suited to different contexts.  There is no single recommended way to do this; it’s likely that a ‘mix and match’ approach will be best as you draw upon ideas and tools that best enable you to think about the risks and possibilities in relation to volunteers, to volunteering activity and to location.

Imagine new possibilities

The second thing is imagination. We must accept, and we have already noted, that we are not going back to how things were.

But there are always new possibilities; different ways of working, different needs coming to light and alternative ways of involving volunteers to achieve our core purposes.

We need our friends and colleagues – staff and volunteers – to be able to steer the best course. Some of us are cautious by nature and will be alert to where compromise and restraint are required. Some of us are good lateral thinkers and can come up with new Ideas to try. We need both!

Sharing stories

We are collecting case studies about volunteering and Covid-19 and would welcome yours! You can find a template here.

A case study can be quite brief but serves to document and Illustrate how volunteering has changed and adapted through this time. It will convey important messages to your stakeholders, volunteers, supporters, and trustees. It helps to tell your story in an accessible way.

They are equally valuable to us in WCVA and we will use the case studies we receive in various ways.

  • Some can be published – perhaps further developed to draw out significant points
  • We can draw upon them to write reflective pieces or blogs
  • We can use them as illustrative evidence to support research by academic partners
  • Some will be shared, with permission, with partner organisations such as Welsh Government, Public Health Wales or Wales Local Government Association, for specific purposes and to reach different audiences.

If you would like to discuss your volunteering case studies or would like any help, please get in touch fliddell@wcva.cymru. Your contributions will be useful at any time (but especially before 10 August!)

Helpforce is working with Third Sector Support Wales (WCVA and 19 CVCs), Welsh Government and other partners to develop the potential of volunteering to support health and social care services in Wales,

The Helpforce page on our website includes links to recent articles, blogs and case studies.