Since November 2017 projects from our Volunteering Fund projects have recruited more than 7,000 volunteers, who have given an amazing 169,463 hours of their time to help people and communities be more active.
Our new interim report published today tells the story of the impact the 36 investments have on volunteers and the wider community. A huge contribution to celebrate this Volunteers’ Week!
The report, in partnership with CFE Research, highlights the importance of being able to adapt volunteering opportunities and the value of this in making volunteering more inclusive. This flexibility also helped projects to adapt in response to the significant challenges posed by the pandemic.
Here we share some of the insights, with key points highlighted in bold.
Adapting and responding to coronavirus
Social distancing and lockdowns had a huge impact on project delivery and on the volunteers involved.
They posed many logistical challenges and often the type of volunteering and physical activity that could take place was limited.
But projects were creative in their approach to adapting their delivery to meet these challenges. This willingness to be flexible ensured they were able to continue to support volunteers and that activity could continue where it was safe to do so. For some this meant smaller groups of volunteers or changing setting where volunteering could take place.
Running activities remotely, using online technology, was an important way for many projects to maintain contact with volunteers and provide extra support where needed – it also helped mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on mental health and wellbeing. Some volunteers even found taking part online less intimidating and were more willing to try out new things.
Projects engaging young people described how they’d made the most of social media, sharing activity challenges and inspiring others to get active in their homes or gardens.
Some young people who didn’t usually have the confidence to lead activity sessions face-to-face were more comfortable doing this online and this, in some cases, allowed projects to be successful in engaging young people who hadn’t volunteered before.
Projects were also mindful that access to online activities and using technology could also present barriers to others who lacked digital skills or equipment and offered alternatives like a phone call. Paper versions of resources or activity packs were delivered to houses in some cases, so that people without access to a computer could still take part.
With their organisations at the heart of the community, projects were well placed to redirect their efforts to help support local people during the pandemic. Some volunteers supported the distribution of PPE – making deliveries to those self-isolating – and helped with opening foodbanks.