Do you have more time during lockdown? Do you want to try something new
and help others in your community? Try Volunteering!
At involve Community Services, we are trying to help people and organisations to adjust to the current circumstances. Whilst being at the forefront of the local community response in Bracknell, along with Healthwatch Bracknell Forest and Bracknell Forest Council, we are also trying to update our volunteering opportunities so that people can still offer their time by volunteering. This could either be done from home, for those who are still self-isolating or need to be shielded, or elsewhere such as at the organisation’s offices, while, of course, maintaining social distancing rules and necessary health and safety measures.
Because of this, we are putting together a list of volunteering roles that can be done during the lockdown, and also continuing to update this Volunteering Website and the Bracknell Volunteer Pool. This way, people can still help their community, even if most of us are working from home! So why not get involved and use this time to add something new to your CV, help your local community, and have fun while doing so?!
Click here to learn about why you should join the Volunteer Pool this Volunteers' Week, or click here for suggestions of random acts of kindness to complete! You could also check out all the volunteering ideas and tasks you can do below, or see all the potential Lockdown Opportunities we've got on this website.
Many organisation would have planned to have stalls at community fetes and fairs, and/or organised slots to fundraise at local companies and supermarkets, however due to COVID-19, most events like this will have to be cancelled or rearranged to a later date, which means a lot of charities will be missing out on important funding during the summer months.
Because of this, support from fundraisers who can raise funds at home is needed more than ever! Whether you use use a crowdfunding website, take on a sponsorship challenge, sell products online or try something entirely unique and new, please choose a small local charity that will be missing out on funds this summer to fundraise for during lockdown. You could even pick a few of your favourite charities and fundraising methods and change things up every 1-2 weeks, so you can raise money for lots of different organisations in lots of different and fun ways!
Click here to view our list of fun ways to fundraise by yourself at home, or you can find out which organisations have been advertising for more permanent fundraising volunteers here.
There are many charities who work to support vulnerable and/or isolated people. This lockdown is obviously proving to be a particular tough time for vulnerable people, and consequently, the organisations that help support them. At home visits are having to be cancelled, and telephone appointments or video chats are having to suffice for many people and organisations. This can be particularly difficult for clients who aren't very tech-savvy, as they may struggle to use computers or phones to adequately communicate with people who are trying to contact them to ensure they are coping during this situation. While many resources have been created to further support vulnerable people access information and services during this time, there are still some obstacles for getting help to everyone who is in need.
Some organisations, such as those working with the elderly or people with additional needs, are still in need of volunteers who can help them support their clients further. Often, roles that involve contacting vulnerable people will require DBS checks, references and training etc, therefore we have been contacting organisations to confirm whether they are still offering these parts of the volunteering application process while both sides are working from home, eg. via video chat training and interviews.
If you would be interested in helping these organisations with supporting their clients, either via telephone befriending or video chats, etc, click here to view a list of roles and charities that require these kinds of volunteers.
Administration & Media Support
This is a great way you can support organisations from the comfort of your own home! Many charities and groups need to continually update and maintain all the information they are sharing online, in order to continue advertising their great work and services during this time. However, there's not always the time, knowledge or resources for staff to keep everything up to date themselves. This is why administration, media, marketing and communication volunteers are so essential. Could you help a charity in need with one of the below tasks?
- Designing and maintaining websites and an organisations general online presence
- Researching materials that can be used for sharing in news articles or in social posts
- Designing, scheduling and generally controlling posts that are being shared on social media pages
- Writing articles and reports sharing important news and information
- Taking and editing photos and videos relevant to a charity's work and services that can be shared and used as promotional material
- Creating and sharing posters and other graphics promoting an organisations' work and services
- Acting as an at-home receptionist, by helping to answer basic queries from people who contact the organisation
- Forwarding clients' messages on to a member of staff when further support or experience is needed
Whatever you're good at doing, there's always a way that you can help out a charity in need. Either get in contact with a local charity that you would be interested in supporting with one or some of these tasks, or check out our administration roles.
Normally there are various task forces that work together to improve the local environment, such as conservation or litter picking volunteers. However, because we can no longer meet in large groups without the danger of potentially spreading COVID-19 and causing problems for vulnerable people, this means certain local conservation and environmental tasks cannot be done! Due to this, it seems to have become the responsibility of local people to go out on their own and sort out problems in their area... By going out into your community and doing environmental activities, you would essentially be volunteering; While it's not officially through any organisations, you'll be doing a good deed and benefiting your neighbours! Tasks you could partake in could include:
- Weeding invasive plant species
- Litter picking
- Clearing obstructions from footpaths
- Providing water bowls for wildlife
- Repairing fences/signs
- Planting flowers
- Mowing communal grass areas
- Raking leaves
Obviously, we need to be extra cautious during this time, so you must ensure when completing any of these tasks of your own volition that you are using appropriate safety equipment and exercising careful handling and hand washing procedures as well. Whether you're doing small jobs to brighten up a neighbours garden, or you're working around your surrounding streets, there are lots of ways you can help improve the local environment where you live.
Helping Animals & Wildlife
Charities that look after animals or wildlife are having to work twice as hard during this pandemic. A lot of their volunteers will have no longer be able to come in to help take care of the animals everyday, for example, because they may be shielding and/or self-isolating. Due to this, the number of helping hands has reduced, while the number of animals in need has remained the same. If you are low-risk and not self-isolating, these charities would love to hear from you to help them take care of their animals, which will often be done in various shifts in order to avoid other people as much as possible. Whether you're able to feed and water animals, clean enclosures, or socialise with pets in need of adoption, there are plenty of ways volunteers help out at rescue and rehabilitation centres.
You can also help wildlife from home. British Wildlife is severely endangered, with their numbers drastically dropping over the past 50 years or so. The Wildlife Trust has put together a helpful list of actions that can be done at home to help nature. Here are some of our favourites,but you find find the full list at bbowt.org.uk/actions
Why You Should Volunteer: Real Life Stories
More than 1,800 people have signed up to volunteer for the Bracknell Forest Community Response since it launched in March. The support provided by these volunteers is making a big difference to vulnerable residents. Here’s what a Bracknell Forest resident, Linda, said about the support she’s received:
“I have been called to see if I need anything and have been overwhelmed with the concern for my wellbeing. I feel less isolated, less alone and feel there is always someone there for me at the end of the phone. I have had help with walking [my dog] and also a volunteer took my glasses to be fixed and had this done within two hours. I am very grateful and feel that the help I have received has eased my loneliness. The volunteering is a brilliant service.”
One of the Bracknell Forest Community Response volunteers, Sheena Saran has shared her reason for volunteering to help the community during the pandemic:
“I decided to volunteer for the Bracknell Forest Community Response because I’m not able to work owing to Covid-19. I wanted to do something to support others and relieve some of the pressure on the social services. So far, I have helped with shopping and collecting prescriptions for residents, as well as having a chat with them.
“I love seeing people I volunteer for. They’re always happy to have a chat. It’s important to interact with isolated individuals, as this is the most contact they have. I enjoy feeling busy and being a volunteer has given me something to do, realise how fortunate I am and grateful that I’m able to help others in this small way.”