Can You Still Volunteer While Social Distancing?
The short answer? Yes. Charities need volunteers more than ever before, especially with over 1.5 million vulnerable people asked to stay home and shield themselves from the virus. But volunteering in the current climate is a bit more complicated than you might think. With more and more businesses shut down and restrictions placed on who can go outside, not-for-profits have had to adjust the way they work with volunteers.
But just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean that volunteering has completely stopped. Charities are finding new, innovative ways for people to get involved. They’re going virtual, connecting via apps like Zoom and WhatsApp. And of course, if you’re perfectly healthy you can still take part in traditional volunteering as long as you’re following proper safety protocol.
Not sure how to get involved? Here’s everything you need to know about volunteering during the pandemic.
First and foremost, follow government advice
There are plenty of ways to get involved from home, so if you’re happy to do that—amazing. But if you want to do something that requires you to go outside, make sure you follow all guidelines outlined by the government.
If you’re volunteering, then you’re providing a key service, so you’re not breaking any rules by going out. But make sure you:
- Stay two metres away from other people at all times
- Consider wearing gloves when handling goods for other people
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds at a time
- Minimise meetings and unnecessary gatherings
- Don’t have any symptoms of the virus (dry cough, fever)
You’re allowed to support your vulnerable neighbours
Not everyone is able to go outside to buy groceries or exercise. And since the government recommended any over the age of 70 self-isolate, you’re likely to have many neighbours who are suddenly on their own with no help. And then there are hard-working members of the community who might appreciate some support, such as medical staff, delivery drivers, supermarket workers and anyone who is working long hours to provide an essential service.
In this case, it’s okay for you to purchase and drop off groceries or run errands for those who need it. We just recommend:
- Not taking on too much
- Letting family and friends know what you are doing
- Keeping a distance between you and those you are helping
- Flagging up serious issues someone might be having with the appropriate statutory service
Check-in with those in your community to see who needs help. Or see if any local charities are looking for volunteers to provide these services.
Consider remote means of volunteering
Of course, you don’t have to go outside to help out. There are plenty of ways to support key workers and vulnerable people from the comfort of your own home. Here are just a few things you can consider doing:
- Call someone who may be isolated
- Sew scrubs and facemasks for key workers
- Provide virtual tutoring for children
- Run a live fitness class via video chat
Speak to your neighbours and friends to find out what they need and figure out a way to apply your skills for the greater good.
The NHS needs help from people like you
Last week, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock made an appeal for people in good health to volunteer to help the NHS by assisting with shopping, providing childcare, delivering medicine and supporting those who are shielding themselves from the virus. Their goal was to sign up 250,000 volunteers. Within two days, they had half a million.
With over 750,000 peoples currently signed up to volunteer, the application process has been paused. But that doesn’t mean it is closed for good. They just need time to sort through the applications.
Applications should be opening back up in a few weeks, so check back then. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.
Charities are still recruiting for volunteers
Believe us, charities still need your help, and more and more volunteer roles are being posted every day. If you’re interested in helping out but aren’t sure where to start, check out our volunteer page.
It might give you some inspiration for charities to reach out to. And if there isn’t a role listed for a charity you know you want to support, try visiting their website or following them on twitter to see what sort of volunteer options are available. You’d be surprised by how many are still out there.
Just remember, stay safe and stay healthy.