Manchester Metropolitan University Students' Union
 

Volunteering safely during the COVID-19 pandemic

Wednesday 01-04-2020 - 12:05

foodbank.

At this unusual time we know many Manchester Met students are concerned for those in need in their local area and further afield. The Union is still on hand to offer guidance on how you can safely get involved with volunteering. Please follow government guidelines and don’t volunteer out of your house if you’re at increased risk from coronavirus, if you are ill, have any coronavirus symptoms, or live with someone that does.

 

New volunteering opportunities

Manchester Community Central (MACC): For those still in Manchester, our friends over at Manchester Community Central (MACC) have an online portal that you can register on if you are willing and able to help: this could be anything from delivering food parcels, to calling those who may be lonely.

Stockport Hospital: If you have a medical background or would like to support from the frontline, Stockport hospital are looking for ward volunteers. Please note that there are no roles providing medical care or advice.

Fareshare: For those of you who might not be in the local area, our friends over at Fareshare are looking for volunteers all across the country to help deliver food to those who need it.

British Red Cross: The British Red Cross are also looking for people to sign up as Community Reserve Volunteers all across the UK.

 

Helping your local community

There are lots of other smaller ways you can help out your community and stay connected during this time. The simplest way to help is to check in on your neighbours or flatmates and, if you feel comfortable to do so, give them your contact details just in case they need you or you need them. You can also check on Google and social media to see if your local area has a community group or mutual aid group. This is somewhere people will go to if they need help. If you can’t find one, could you start one? Facebook, Slack and Zoom are your friends right now and can easily be used to connect neighbours!

 

Supporting vulnerable people

There are some simple but effective things we can all do to help those who are vulnerable in our local areas, and also keyworkers (NHS staff, supermarket workers, delivery drivers etc.):

  • Collect and deliver shopping – leaving deliveries on the doorstep or safe place to avoid close physical contact
  • Pick up medicines
  • Put out their bins or taking in a parcel
  • Help to care for pets
  • Deliver books and magazines or materials to support hobbies such as wool for knitting or art materials

We would also suggest checking that your local food bank has all the supplies they need; give them a call to find out what they’re in need of and to see if you can help.

Social contact has moved online at a very quick pace, and whilst most people reading this will be tech whizzes, there's lots of people in the community who might need a helping hand with getting up to speed with these new apps. A phone call with an older or younger neighbour to teach them how to use things like Zoom and Facebook may be incredibly effective in helping them feel less lonely. You could also share other skills with them online — try supporting your neighbours by teaching their children for a few hours or learn how to knit from an older neighbour on Zoom.

 

Keeping yourself safe

Whilst we all try and help the people around us, we’ll get nowhere if we’re not doing it safely! As well as following government guidelines about when to stay indoors, here are some tips to follow when helping others:

  • Keep washing your hands often for 20 seconds 
  • Stay at least two metres (about three steps) away from people you’re helping
  • If you’re trying to help someone with very serious issues — don’t be afraid to flag with appropriate statutory services
  • Support family, friends and neighbours by phone or video call
  • Offer to run errands for people but stay outside of people’s homes
  • Let family and friends know what you’re doing
  • Don’t take on too much — it's often better not to offer at all than to let someone down
  • Don’t share your contact details or address online and only in person where you feel comfortable doing so.

 

Further info on volunteering

For loads of great info on staying safe while helping, check out the government guidance.

If you’d rather stay cosy at home or you’re self-isolating, there are still lots of ways that you can make a difference. Check out Microvolunteering opportunities, which include lots of fun and easy ways to help charities without leaving your home. You don’t need any previous experience and you can do as much or as little as you like.

Thank you for everything you do to support your local and global community. Please remember to follow government advice and keep safe when volunteering. If you have any questions about volunteering or community action please contact the volunteering team.

Categories:

Advice, COVID-19, Featured, Opportunities

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