Volunteering is a great way to give back. The act of volunteering itself reaches not only the organisation and their beneficiaries, but creates a domino effect of reaching people who hear about acts of volunteering, regarding their kindness as emotionally uplifting; it reaches those near and dear to those in need; and it reaches YOU.

Volunteering has said to have a positive effect on an individual’s mental health. In these uncertain times, where everything is unprecedented and we are finding new ways to function normally, volunteering can contribute largely to your mental health and hearing about our wonderful volunteers and those acts of kindness that bring humanity together can be good for you, both inside and out. So KEEP it up – keep people smiling, keep spirits up… keep volunteering! #NeverMoreNeeded #CheersToTheVolunteers

As mentioned in our blog about our Volunteering  Programme in response to the pandemic, we have matched a number of willing  volunteers. As a result of this, we wanted to gauge some feedback about our volunteers’ experiences about roles in response to the pandemic, as well as those volunteering roles that are constant – both pre, throughout and post Covid-19.  These are from a variety of roles such as delivering food parcels, non-covid related help, drivers and those volunteering within local community response groups.

The Good …

We have collated some testimonies from different volunteering roles from those who responded to our call out. They are all from our Covid-19 response volunteering database and from a variety of different roles.

‘Being able to support underprivileged communities in times of great need’

‘Hearing the impact the food is having on the local communities around Milton Keynes. One small organisation said to me this week (w/c 6/04/2020)  that in the last 3 weeks they have helped over 50% of the total people they helped in all of 2019. This could only have been achieved by the increase in support from Fareshare and it’s new army of volunteers.’

‘Interacting with different people/meeting new people. Knowing that you’re helping out too is very rewarding.’

‘…I gave back to a charity that had helped 3 members of my family in the past and some friends.’

‘I have been a volunteer for most of my life in various ways. My main role is being part of my local Resident Association where I live, in an area that needs so much and at times feels like it is forgotten, I meet lots of people who like me like where they are living, so being part of campaigning and working with other agencies to get my estate recognised is important to me and others who want a better life, it gives us knowledge, hope, trust in others and a sense of well-being, physically and mentally, we can plan to have fun days, day trips, parties and all the good things that are important to us and others, and for every person I reach, my passion grows stronger in knowing that what I do is not only helping others but myself also.’

‘Feeling useful in these difficult times’

‘Feeling that I was being useful and able to support those more vulnerable.’

‘Meeting people and helping the community.’

‘I’m a MK based freelance video producer who works all over the world at different events. When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, like many of the self employed in this country all of my work disappeared overnight. I was lucky enough to be helped out by the Government in their ‘Help for the self employed’ scheme. Rather than sitting back, taking the money and enjoying the time off I decided to contact Community Action: MK to see if they knew of any local charities that were in need of help with video production work.  The call was put out and I’ve been busier than I was before the lockdown!

‘I’ve worked with some amazing charities over the past few months including Al’s Pals, The Puzzle Centre & the amazing Henry Allen Trust, this is a charity that has really impressed me with the work that they do and the help that they offer. I’m pleased to say the video we produced together has a track performed by Emeli Sandé that we were given permission to use and has nearly 10,000 views across social media and has been shared 100’s of times. Things are now getting back to normal for me as work slowly begins to pick up, but having seen how much a small offer of help can make to a charity, I am planning on continuing some of the relationships I have with the groups I’ve worked with.’

The Challenging…

Of course, this has been a difficult time for all. Volunteers were deemed key workers and had to continue on in the face of uncertainty in order to help those that most needed it and to keep those CVS organisations and groups that deliver essential services and support to those most vulnerable or at risk of poor mental, physical and emotional health. Here are some examples of the challenges that our volunteers have faced:

‘Social distancing.’

‘Learning new warehouse skills has been challenging but good. Making sure everyone who is working in the warehouse stays safe and maintaining a 2 meter distance while working.’

‘Wearing PPE which was important & appreciated was required but uncomfortable.’

‘Sometimes I struggled physically and got tired.’

Words of Encouragement…

We asked our volunteers to share a few words of encouragement and tips to those who might be interested in volunteering.

‘The team at Fareshare are incredible and extremely supportive in any hours you wish to undertake. The team of volunteers are from all walks of life and so friendly. Get involved!’

‘Be open minded, don’t go in thinking you want to only help in one specific area. There are many things that can be done to help at this time. It seems like it’s the smaller organisations that are making the biggest impact and they benefit most from people who are willing to get stuck into anything.’

‘I would 100% recommend it. It’s very well set up and everyone I’ve spoken to has been so nice and grateful for the extra support.’

‘Volunteering in a difficult time can give you a sense of purpose, giving you time to help others, taking you out of isolation and possibly gaining new skills.’

‘Try it, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain, such as meeting new people, new experiences, helping others and the feeling you have done something worthwhile.’

Thank you

In honour of Volunteers Week (1st – 7th June) this week, we wanted to join the entire community and voluntary sector, along with the rest of the nation, and say thank you. And a big #CheersToTheVolunteers. We have asked our volunteers one last favour – to send in a selfie and a word that describes their experience or view of volunteering. #NeverMoreNeeded

Visit our Volunteering pages to find out how you can get involved.