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Coronavirus and volunteering FAQ

Volunteers are approaching my organisation but we are struggling to involve them. How can they help?

In your organisation

It’s no longer business-as-usual, so volunteer programmes and opportunities will have to change or adapt. The basic advice is to keep things simple and use common sense. Some roles will be less affected than others, for example, those related to desk-based work, such as graphic design, social media, website, etc. Others will be certainly be altered or stopped, especially those that support vulnerable groups, such as befriending and similar roles. Members of the public want to help and will be approaching your organisation. Think of how they can help. For example:

  • Tasks that can keep going with little or no change e.g. social media, website design & maintenance, graphic design.
  • Tasks that can be done remotely rather than face-to-face e.g. making phone calls to clients instead of home visits.
  • New tasks e.g. can your usual café volunteers deliver food to those customers instead. It is important to note that new tasks should be simple and not require extensive training.

If you can’t involve them

Volunteer Edinburgh’s advice for people who are looking to help is very simple: Think Local Act Local. Basic neighbourliness is absolutely vital in a crisis, whether it is extreme weather or coronavirus. There are many ways in which you can make a real impact right where you live: Check on neighbours, especially anyone who may live alone, anyone elderly or potentially vulnerable. If someone is self-isolating or unable to get out for whatever reason – can you help by doing practical yet vital tasks such as:

  • Collecting a prescription or over the counter medications that may be needed.
  • Doing some basic grocery shopping.
  • If you are making a meal offer to make a portion for someone who may not be feeling able to cook for themselves.
  • Take their bins out on bin day.
  • Offering to exercise their dog if they have one and are not to do this themselves.
  • It is often the little acts of kindness that have the most impact.

Naturally, if someone is unwell or self-isolating precautions should be taken, but good common sense applies and you should always follow NHS Advice. Remember that offers of support and help can be made by phone, on a note with your contact details put through a letter box or on local neighbourhood online forums such as Nextdoor. One of the most significant risks is to people’s sense of isolation and loneliness. A phone call or offers of help can make all the difference for someone who may have limited or no contact with others. It’s very simple… it shows that someone cares.

Is there any place I can signpost individuals willing to help to look for online volunteering opportunities?

This is a selection of micro volunteering projects, many of which can be done from home or online.

I know a person who requires a befriender to help them out. Where can I find one?

  • You can advertise for befrienders through Volunteer Edinburgh, if your organisation is going to recruit for that role.
  • Search for organisations that may have volunteer befrienders for the particular client group you have in mind: [1]
  • You can also find organisations that are able to offer non-medical help directly to people: [2]

Is there any place I can signpost individuals willing to help to look for online volunteering opportunities?

This is a selection of micro volunteering projects, many of which can be done from home or on-line: https://drive.google.com/open?id=16x-orrppuHcGQwthBuSvIlosL1K1Nwmu

I know a person who requires a befriender to help them out. Where can I find one?

  1. You can advertise for befrienders through Volunteer Edinburgh, if your organisation is going to recruit for that role.
  2. Search for organisations that may have volunteer befrienders for the particular client group you have in mind: https://www.befriending.co.uk/directory/
  3. You can also find organisations that are able to offer non-medical help directly to people: https://covid-19.scvo.org/

Where can I find useful information to support older people?

These are Age Scotland’s 10 top tips on Tackling loneliness during COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Stay in regular touch with older friends, relatives and neighbours by phone, email or video calls
  • Don't forget snail mail - everyone loves getting letters and postcards, or just a note through the door
  • Check if someone needs repeat medication picking up
  • If someone is self-isolating, offer to pick up groceries or other essentials and leave them on the doorstep
  • Find out if someone would like help to set up an online delivery, or do it on their behalf
  • Make sure the person has plenty of entertainment such as books, magazines or puzzles
  • Consider if you can offer help with pets
  • Try agreeing to watch the same TV programme and calling for a chat about it afterwards
  • Encourage people to stay active if they are self-isolating - whether that's moving around the house or a walk away from crowded areas
  • Find out the services available in your area from local councils, charities and other organisation

Coronavirus and benefits. How to claim?

The following page provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefits. It will continue to be updated. Please check this page regularly for updates on the arrangements the Department for Work and Pensions is making to support those who are affected by coronavirus. https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

How do I get my organisation to work remotely?

These top ten remote working tips (SCVO) can be quite helpful.

I am afraid of the impact that social-distancing might have on the mental health of my volunteers. I am aware that digital tools can help them to cope with it. Where can I start to support them?

The blog post Self-isolation, social distancing and digital inclusion (SCVO) includes some practical steps to help those that lack digital skills to reduce the impact of social isolation.

Where can I find help for my organisation?

You can find organisations that are able to offer non-medical help to organisations or professionals here: https://covid-19.scvo.org/help/for-organisations

My organisation can offer capacity to help, where can we share it?

You can visit the Coronavirus Community Assistance Directory and offer it there: https://covid-19.scvo.org.uk/

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