Volunteering round-up: April 2020

The volunteer response to the coronavirus crisis has been incredible. Despite the UK being under lockdown, we know millions of people across the country are continuing to give their time to help those in need during the pandemic. This includes people signed up to NHS Volunteer Responders, those volunteering for charities and others getting involved with local mutual aid groups.

Safe to say, it has been a rather busy few weeks in the volunteering world since the last round-up. Below I recap everything you need to know about the covid-19 volunteering response. There’s also some important updates on other events and goings-on in the volunteering world.

Covid-19 volunteering response

Advice for volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations and groups

You can find out more about how you can help out during the outbreak and read Shaun Delaney’s blog to understand the rules on volunteering during the lockdown.

We have updated our online ‘Involving Volunteers’ guidance: this outlines several key areas for volunteer-involving organisations and groups to consider when involving volunteers in their work during the pandemic.

We’ll be running a webinar on 5 May giving some top tips on involving and supporting volunteers during the pandemic and an overview of the practical guidance and support available. The session is free to join and will be presented by Shaun Delaney, volunteering development manager at NCVO. Find out more and sign up for the webinar.

There will also be a webinar on 14 May focusing on key safeguarding principles and wellbeing tips for volunteers. It will be presented by Jarina Choudhury, volunteering development consultant at NCVO. You can find out more and sign up for this free webinar.

Volunteering and furloughing

The government has introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and many organisations are now taking the difficult decision to furlough staff. Shaun Delaney has written about what this scheme means for furloughed workers who may wish to volunteer and for organisations hoping to take on new volunteers. Two important points to bear in mind are that:

  • furloughed staff are not allowed to volunteer for their own organisation while they are on furlough leave
  • furloughed staff do have the option to volunteer for a different organisation while they are on furlough leave.

NHS Volunteer Responders

Early this month NHS Volunteer Responders was launched: a scheme for volunteers to help the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak. The initiative is being delivered by the NHS and Royal Voluntary Service and enabled by the GoodSam app. So far, it has attracted more than three times the number of expected sign-ups, so recruitment is temporarily on hold. Shaun Delaney provides some more detail on the scheme in his blog post. The programme is also now open to self-referrals from those who are currently shielding. You can find out more on the NHS England website.

Spontaneous volunteering

Over recent weeks, the coronavirus crisis has seen a rapid rise in ‘spontaneous volunteering’ across the country. This is grassroots volunteering happening outside of official emergency responses and includes people helping out their neighbours and giving time with their local mutual aid group.

I’ve written a blog post looking at how volunteers are getting involved in mutual aid and community support groups. Oliver Chan, NCVO researcher, has written about five lessons we can learn from the research on spontaneous volunteering in past emergencies. He’s also collated an extensive list of research on this theme: if you’re interested in seeing this list, then please get in touch at research@ncvo.org.uk.

Association of Volunteer Managers: Themes from covid-19 networking calls

The Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) has hosted a number of networking calls to discuss and share how people working with volunteers are adapting to the pandemic. As similar themes and suggestions have emerged across the calls, they have pulled these together with links and resources shared by those on the calls. They have loosely grouped these into parts of the volunteer journey which you can read on their website.

The global volunteer response to covid-19: What can we learning moving forward?

The Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) and the UNESCO Chair programme at the University of East Anglia are running a free webinar on 30 April looking at the lessons that can be learned from the ongoing global volunteer response to covid-19. They’ll be exploring the volunteer responses in Sierra Leone, Nepal and the UK while also thinking about potential solutions to issues that they raise. You can find out more and sign up for the webinar.

Volunteers’ Week 2020

NCVO has taken the difficult decision to cancel our planned activity for Volunteers’ Week 2020. Our focus right now is on supporting volunteers to take coronavirus-related roles and helping communities to cope with the many consequences of the pandemic.

The Volunteers’ Week website will still be accessible with all the usual resources and ideas for those organisations that are going ahead with their own activities. However, we will be closing the events listing and volunteering stories to new content. For more information you can go to the Volunteers’ Week website.

National Volunteering Forum: Volunteering futures

We held our National Volunteering Forum last month. The forum was run as two identical half-day sessions in London and Bristol and brought together volunteering practitioners for discussion, learning and networking. The sessions were led by Shaun Delaney and Alex Farrow from NCVO and focused on discussing what’s in store for volunteering in the near and distant future. You can see more of what was discussed on the day on Twitter and view the slides from the sessions.

Sign up to email updates from NCVO to find out when details of the next form are announced.

Heritage Volunteering Conference

Given the current situation, Heritage Volunteering Group (HVG) have decided to postpone the Heritage Volunteering Conference until early next year. They will be giving a full refund on all tickets purchased. For any queries related to this, please contact Fiona Cariss.

Despite the postponement of the conference, HVG will still be presenting their Volunteer Leader of the Year Award in June and are also working hard on developing a digital offer. This is likely to include activities such as coffee mornings and virtual masterclasses. For more information, you can get in touch with HVG on Twitter.

Investing in Volunteers (IiV) helps you develop meaningful and effective volunteering

At the moment a lot of readers of this blog are facing changes and responding to challenges across communities. The sector is developing new volunteering opportunities and being creative in order to effectively manage quality volunteer involvement throughout the crisis.

NCVO’s Investing in Volunteers (IiV) programme has been designed to support effective volunteer involvement and meaningful experiences. You can download the framework for free on KnowHow. The nine quality areas and examples of good practice can help you plan and shape impactful new developments and volunteering opportunities.

To continue to support the sector we have adapted the delivery of our IiV services. We have introduced virtual workshops and remote assessments so organisations can now complete the full 12-month IiV journey remotely.

Contact the IiV team to find out more or visit the website to start exploring your IiV journey today.

Training and events

Keep up to date with latest volunteering policy, research and practice at our sector-leading training and events:

Involving volunteers during the pandemic: What you need to know – 5 May 2020 – online event

This webinar will provide you with some top tips on involving and supporting volunteers during the coronavirus crisis and give an overview of the practical guidance and support available. The webinar is free to join.

How to involve and safeguard your volunteers during coronavirus – 14 May 2020 – online event

What do you need to do if you are involving volunteers in your response to coronavirus? This webinar will bring you up to date on common volunteering roles, key safeguarding principles, and wellbeing tips for your volunteers. The webinar is free to join.

Good practice in volunteer management – 11 September, 19 October, 11 December 2020 – NCVO Conference Suite, London (One-day course running on three separate dates)

This one-day course introduces the key principles of good practice in volunteer management and explains how you can apply them to your organisation.

Assessing the impact of your volunteers – 28 September, 7 December 2020 – NCVO Conference Suite, London (One-day course running on two separate dates)

This one-day workshop will give you step-by-step guidance on how to assess the impact your volunteers are having on your organisation, your beneficiaries and themselves, as well as on the wider community and other stakeholders.

Volunteering and the law – 13 November 2020 – NCVO Conference Suite, London

This one-day course helps you to understand volunteering and the law in relation to issues such as safeguarding, data protection, health and safety, equality and diversity, insurance and benefits.

Safeguarding for volunteer managers – 4 December 2020 – NCVO Conference Suite, London

This one-day course introduces the basics of safeguarding specifically within a volunteer manager’s role. It highlights effective safeguarding practice when working with and supporting volunteers.



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Avatar photo Charlie is a trainee volunteering development policy officer at NCVO, supporting NCVO's volunteering policy work. He has been volunteering since childhood in various roles, including at a community development charity working with the eastern European Roma community in Glasgow, as an adviser at a Citizens Advice bureau, and as a Scout leader.

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