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#Beeston2020Vision - Volunteering in Lockdown Beeston


January is a time to take stock - to think about priorities and resolutions, especially now at a bleak point in the pandemic. 

Trapped at home on and off for ten months - threatened by events and rules beyond our control - many face anxiety, helplessness, monotony and isolation. All are depressing challenges to mental health. So what can be done? 

Giving Time 

Givingtime to something you care about outside your immediate family circle can make a positive contribution to the wider community and be a deeply satisfying experience too.  There is a welcome buzz to that sort of giving. 

Volunteers have always played a critical role in supporting communities. Significantly, under present Government rules, volunteering is a rare opportunity to mix legitimately in the wider world. Even in Tier 4, voluntary or charitable services offer ways to do something useful to help your local community - especially if you are under 70 and are determined enough to commit. 

The key is to decide what is right for you. Do you have interests, expertise and the time to share and what are your priorities?  Just how serious are you about those New Year Resolutions? 


Local Opportunities 

There are plenty of local opportunities to volunteer from food banks and NHS to driving or helplines, even vaccinators. Among the many roles in health alone are the NHS Volunteer Responders Programme, shopping for food and essentials, collecting and delivering prescriptions for someone who is isolating or shielding. There is the St John Ambulance Vaccination Volunteers programme. There are check in and chat volunteers - telephone support, NHS Transport volunteers - equipment, supplies, medication, patient transport.  The list is almost endless for assisting stretched medical staff and helping in key worker roles. Explore NHS Volunteer Responders online. 

Clinically vulnerable over 70, pregnant or those with underlying health problems can still volunteer, providing you focus on home based activities.  The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) offers online guidance, Volunteering and Coronavirus, how you can help - clarifying rules for volunteers in England. 

There is much that is common sense. If you do have to travel try to stay local and walk or cycle. You can meet in groups of any size, so long as this is not an excuse to meet as part of a social activity. When meeting you should follow hands, face and space rules. 

Notts County Council and local NCVO centres are useful contacts for matching your aspirations to wider local needs, but that may be quite unnecessary.


Starting at Home 

Volunteering can start spontaneously from home by looking out for your neighbours - by offering help with shopping and other errands, remembering to stay safe while helping others.  Check Carers Trust East Midlands, The Volunteer Centre Erewash, the Nottingham Voluntary Action Centre and the Rushcliffe Volunteer Centre - all close to hand. Many useful things can be done by phone or online without ever leaving your house. 

Remember to be tolerant if established charities and volunteer networks are finding it difficultto function in the present lockdown and may have to decline your offer. This is a frustrating time for us all. 

Sadly, Voluntary Action Broxtowe has folded under the strain and the Pearson Centre for Young People is closed, but the Middle Street Resource Centre (MSRC) Beeston help line remains open. 

There are plenty of opportunities out there for volunteers to enrich their own lives, gaining new skills and confidence by helping others. Persevere. Support causes that you care about. Try it!


Peter Robinson


January 2021




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