As we continue to celebrate the work of volunteers up and down the country as part of Volunteers’ week 2020, this year, I feel we do so with a bit more poignancy than before.
In what has been an extremely unsettling, uncertain and unimaginable time around the world with the Coronavirus pandemic, there are key workers that have stood out to keep the country running. From those working in the NHS; retail workers; delivery drivers and broadcasters, to volunteers, who give up their time for free.
In an earlier post, I commented on how volunteering has changed over the years and how people simply don’t have the time, but Coronavirus has given people the time, which is fantastic to see.
It’s not just about the time either. The fact people are keen to volunteer, even during a pandemic, highlights that it is still very much in the blood of this country. Doing things for free and giving back to local communities. Coronavirus has made this even easier for people to do, as local councils, businesses and even the NHS all seek volunteers to help with all manner of roles.
In fact, a report in the Guardian suggests that within a few weeks of the UK’s lockdown being introduced, England acquired one million social volunteers. The NHS volunteer scheme saw 75,000 people sign up via a mobile phone app with an estimated 250,000 registrants doing so in the proceeding weeks.
It’s with the help of volunteers that services have been able to run; the NHS has continued to give dedicated care to patients, not only those with COVID-19, but general care too; patients have been supported, staff have been supported; those who can’t get out because of lockdown got food – the work these volunteers did, and still do, is priceless.
Many would have volunteered to fulfil their day with a routine whilst furloughed, others to give something back to the community in which they live, it doesn’t matter why they volunteered, or volunteer, the point is, they did.
I’ve continued to volunteer during the pandemic, but not as much as I would have liked. In part, that’s due to the closure of one of the organisations I volunteer for, but also because my day job in the NHS has been exceptionally busy, not unexpected during a pandemic, though.
As we come out of lockdown in England, slowly but surely, I’m finding myself volunteering a little more. The organisation that was closed, is now open again and I continue to volunteer for national charity, the Hospital Broadcasting Association. I’ll write a separate post on my volunteering journey over the last year.
The way of the world has changed due to Coronavirus and will change how many of us work, live and interact going forward, but I certainly hope the notion of volunteering lives on, because if there’s one positive to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s that the idea of volunteering and those who currently volunteer, are more important than ever.