Volunteers have always been the lifeblood of charities and community groups, but never more so than during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The last few years have been challenging for the whole world, but people have been coming forward worldwide to rise to the situation in creative ways.
We have all seen the need to support the most vulnerable members of our community, whether it has been through simple acts of kindness like picking up shopping, just checking in with a friendly voice to make sure they are coping with the lockdown, or helping people to stay connected and know they aren’t alone during these difficult times.
The Power of Volunteering
We at VAL have always been aware of the power of volunteering and the amazing impact it can, and does, have on so many lives locally, nationally and across the whole world. Back in 2012, more than 70,000 volunteers came together to support the Olympic Games in London and to make it an amazing summer of activity that continues to have a legacy for the UK. Locally, back in 2015 we had 350 volunteers support the Rugby World Cup events and 70 volunteers that supported the Reinterment of Richard III here in Leicestershire.
Today, we are asking volunteers to help in less pleasant circumstances, but nevertheless the people of Leicester and Leicestershire have answered the call with more than 5000 people coming forward to offer their time and more than 2500 volunteers mobilised to support their local communities. This response has been both awe-inspiring and humbling for VAL staff.
Each of these people are individual heroes who are making a major difference in their local community, but collectively this pool of volunteers demonstrates the care, consideration and kindness of people in Leicester and Leicestershire.
All of you have our heartfelt thanks for your gracious offers of help in this time of need. Your support has enabled local projects to continue during the lockdown, adapt their services to meet local people’s need and to plan and prepare for the future.
Looking ahead, as we move into the next phase of our lives under COVID-19, we will be looking at how volunteering opportunities will evolve under the new ‘normal’ that we will all have to adapt to. We will be working more with local charities, communities groups, social enterprises and volunteer involving organisations that rely on the support of volunteers and helping them to promote their opportunities on our VAL Volunteering website.
The Benefits of Volunteering
When you volunteer you’re freely giving your time to others, but often you gain so much more in return. Volunteering can have huge benefits not only for the organisations recruiting volunteers, but also for the volunteers themselves and for the wider community.
Benefits for individuals
- Connecting with other people in the community
- Allowing you to share your skills, knowledge and experience with others
- Giving you a sense of purpose and meaning
- Feeling valued for your contributions to the community
- Opportunity to build your confidence and self-esteem
- Improving your physical and mental wellbeing
- Gain skills and experience for your personal development
Benefits for organisations
- Continue to deliver important services to the local community
- Build up capacity to expand their work and support more people
- Incorporate a wider range of skills and experience
- Gain valuable insights from different perspectives of individual volunteers – understanding the needs of local people and how they can support them
- Chance to explore new ways to deliver services
Benefits for the community
- Support those members of the community in most need of help
- Make a difference to the lives of other people
- Bringing the community together socially
- Putting a smile back on people’s faces – something everyone could use in difficult times like this
- Helping local organisations to continue delivering vital services
These are just some of the key benefits of volunteering to all involved. We always encourage volunteer involving organisations to think about their needs and how volunteers can effectively support their work before they recruit volunteers to ensure they make the most of people’s valuable time and contributions. Likewise, we always ask potential volunteers to think about what they would like to contribute and to bring to a volunteer role, as this can help to identify the best fit to utilise their time, skills and experience.
Whatever your reason for wanting to volunteer, there will be a role out there somewhere for you. It might take a little time and effort to find it, but it will be out there. It’s amazing what is happening in your local area that you won’t even realise is there.
Get Involved as a Volunteer: VAL Volunteering Website and Micro Volunteering
We have the dedicated VAL Volunteering website to promote volunteering roles in Leicester and Leicestershire. Under normal circumstances, there are a wide range of opportunities advertised on this platform that you can search through and apply to give your time to local organisations.
With the current lockdown situation, the number of opportunities currently available has been reduced as volunteer involving organisations undertake planning work for the future. However, we have been exploring micro volunteering and virtual volunteering opportunities that people can get involved in from home.
There are lots of ways to support your local community and volunteering is adapting to allow people to continue to offer their time in creative ways, so please follow the updates on the VAL Volunteering website to see how you can help in the future.