Free offer of support for volunteers helping during the pandemic, please get in touch by 28th September. Read about the importance of this and more details of the support on offer. Thank you again to the Counsellor’s offering their time. #NeverMoreNeeded
Throughout the last 6 months, we have seen a monumental effort from community members. They have transitioned to become, not only a friendly neighbour but key pillars of support and comfort for those around them. Volunteers have been vital to making sure those who are vulnerable, newly vulnerable or simply in a difficult situation and in need of assistance have had somewhere to turn to. Community organisations across the voluntary and community sector, and more widely in terms of health care provisions, pop up test centers, food provisions and many more would not have been able to function if it had not been for volunteers.
Through our Collaborative Action Groups we have been collecting information around the impact of volunteering on volunteers and the new situations they might have encountered, worries of burnout, the need for support, and a space to share what they have been doing.
Volunteers have offered their time and attention to ensure that organisations can continue their vital work and expand their services at unprecedented rates. The roles that we have seen undertaken include making food parcels, supporting neighbours in numerous ways, keeping communities clean and tidy, helping out at test centres, supporting the local hospice and hospital. The list goes on.
With all the offers of support, Milton Keynes has been in a fortunate position where there has been a surplus of volunteers, ready to support as and when needed, in roles that couldn’t have been imagined before as organisations adapt their working styles and services. The range of issues we hear about nationally are the same issues volunteers have been encountering. From declining mental health, domestic abuse, child malnutrition, and the continually increasing anxieties and fears of residents. By any standard, this is a lot to manage, and could easily be too much – which is why we want to reiterate the need for support.
With this in mind, we have linked up with, and had the generous offer of support from 2 counsellors at the Wellbeing Therapy Centre who will be running support groups, dance therapy and 1-2-1’s for volunteers. It is vital that we ask and ensure that volunteers are making space to take care of themselves so they can continue to support the community as things change and progress.
This can be a space for volunteers who might not be accessing support at the moment, or even aware of the benefits they might get from a dedicated space to share experiences. It will be there to allow people to unload, share, question and process some of their experiences, both good and challenging. It has been highlighted across the country that under normal circumstances volunteer supervision is built into roles, with the surge in informal volunteering and mutual aid groups, this might not be feasible and the necessary referral routes could be unavailable or at capacity. We must work to be aware of this and ensure the necessary support can be provided.
Although this initial offer is only small and limited in numbers it can be used to contribute to ongoing work with charities across MK to expand this support. We will be able to call for more volunteer counsellors who could work to a similar structure as well as feed into mental health partnerships and planning so highlight the need for such a provision to be built in as the pandemic continues.
This is a FREE offer of support and one where space will be created to highlight challenges, unpack feelings, and share what volunteers have been doing. Facilitating this space and prioritising volunteer mental health is key to enabling the voluntary and community sector to continue to be a key pillar in the community and a trusted source of support.
If you have any questions or would like more information please let us know. If you do know of any volunteers who are struggling or have taken on an exceptional amount of work, please prioritise them as spaces are limited.