Adapting to online volunteering

Phil Pyatt Phil Pyatt

It has been a couple of months since my last blog and a lot has happened at TimeBank. As we navigate Covid-19 and our new approach to volunteering delivery we are settling in as best we can to the new normal with the ever-changing guidelines we must all adhere to.

As mentioned in my last blog, we made the decision very early on to work from home as a team. As a result we gave up paying for offices that we were not using, instead using them for storage in order to save charitable funds so we can use them to deliver our volunteering projects instead.

Our Shoulder to Shoulder Online project comes to an end in December and we are working hard to try and secure continuation funding on what has proved an even more vital project than we anticipated. Before we had even heard the words Covid-19, we made the decision to pilot online volunteering projects to see if this is the future of mentoring relationships and how it would work for the socially isolated veterans we work with in Scotland. This has proved vitally important as Covid-19 has only increased this isolation and worry, and we will be launching the findings of the project in the next couple of months.

We successfully secured a small amount of funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to work with some of our existing BAME communities in London, using volunteers from our Talking Together project. Over six months this will provide ongoing support to local community organisations and their beneficiaries, using a range of approaches including WhatsApp groups, video and telephone calls to get clear messages about Covid-19 to those for whom English is not their first language.

In addition, we have received some funding from Catalyst to research the barriers faced by these communities to access technology during Covid-19, and our TimeBank Voices project funded by the Heritage Fund will be expanded to record how the pandemic has affected local community organisations and their beneficiaries.

However, this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the huge demand we face to provide support and we are working hard to secure further funding and online volunteering opportunities.

Our Employee Volunteering offer is starting to grow and we have partnered with local charities to provide support from corporate volunteers to older people, using Zoom to ease their social isolation and help them make the most of technology to link up with more people. We hope that in the run up to Christmas more businesses will want to get involved in this type of employee volunteering. We have also been approached by several corporates interested in employee volunteering projects that support young people from different communities who are not in education, employment or training, who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

It has been a tough six months for everyone during these unprecedented times, and as a charity TimeBank has really experienced first-hand the impact this is having on the communities we work with. We are working hard to do more, but we need funding to do so. We really appreciate the funders who have supported us over the last few months and hope we can build on those relationships. None of our work would be possible without our dedicated volunteers, staff, partners, trustees, funders and beneficiaries and I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you.

I look forward to updating you soon as to our progress over the next couple of months as we lead into Christmas, and I hope you all stay safe and well.

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