WCVA Volunteering Manager Felicitie Walls covers the main points of consideration when preparing or returning to volunteering after lockdown.
Volunteering in Wales, like most other activities and sectors, has faced a significant shift in activity due to the coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdown.
Whilst some volunteering activity has ground to a halt, other forms of volunteering and community activism has taken a centre stage, showing just what members of a resilient community can do. With enough will, there has been a way.
Many stories of these community initiatives have been shared elsewhere already, so I won’t go into these here – but I’ve posted a few links at the bottom of the blog so feel free to catch up there!
Preparing to prepare
In the last month, my colleagues and I across the sector have turned our attention to volunteering and its associated activities as we prepare to come out of lockdown.
We have been thinking about where volunteers are likely to be needed, how volunteer involving organisations might adapt to supporting their existing and new volunteers and how individuals looking to return or start to volunteer might prepare for their volunteering roles and responsibilities.
Our thinking has been informed by the discussions we have been having with members of the volunteering networks, individual telephone conversations with national, regional and local volunteering leads, people that work with or in local and national government, our colleagues from County Voluntary Councils and the broader WCVA membership base.
To share some of these reflections in the preparation for volunteering beyond lockdown, Helpforce Cymru Manager Fiona Liddell and I recorded a podcast which you can listen to here.
Key messages from the podcast
If you haven’t got time to tune in to the full podcast, here are some of the key points.
- The nature of volunteering has changed during the pandemic, we are seeing shifts in the numbers of men and working age people that volunteer.
- Volunteering Wales is a helpful digital tool for promoting and accessing volunteering and can be used as a full volunteer management system.
- We expect extra volunteers will be needed to support particular challenges as we come out of lockdown, such as for mental health projects, initiatives that improve employment, activities that challenge inequality.
- Organisations can prepare for volunteering as we come out of the lockdown by taking time to think through how volunteers can best be involved in their work. The Investing in Volunteer Standards could be used as a reflection tool and the charter for strengthening relationships between volunteers and paid staff can help prepare for any changes to volunteer involvement.
- In this unique time, we encourage organisations to reflect on what they can learn as they try new ways of working and take the time to collect case studies and share this learning with others.
- Volunteers can prepare for volunteering in the future by improving their digital skills, since it is anticipated this will be a key aspect of future volunteering programmes.
I hope this quick overview of our thinking and the podcast helps you in your journey as you return to involving volunteers or refocus their involvement.
Good news stories from Wales’ communities
Generous citizens across Wales have been more than willing to give up their time for others – we share some stories from voluntary sector staff.
When hundreds of volunteers in and around Kenfig Hill and Porthcawl in Bridgend decided to offer their services for vulnerable people having to self-isolate, they weren’t just answering a call to action, they were demonstrating the ingenuity of a community determined to help those in need.
Hundreds of Flintshire volunteers are preparing to undergo training to help them tackle the problems faced by vulnerable Flintshire residents in the wake of Coronavirus.
With help from the Voluntary Services Emergency Fund, the Centre for African Entrepreneurship (CAE) has been providing Swansea’s BAME community with vital services during the coronavirus pandemic.