Informal Volunteering – What It Is And Why It Is So Important For Our Community During This Pandemic

With the impact of COVID-19 being felt by people and organisations alike, creating unemployment and uncertainty, many people are struggling. Volunteering has quickly become an outlet for those job seeking or furloughed, and a way of staying connected to their communities for others.  Subsequently, volunteering has become incredibly important: The services volunteers assist have become a lifeline for many during this difficult time and simply wouldn’t exist without the time and dedication of volunteers. Understandably though, not everyone is able to commit to a specific day/time/role (formal volunteering), but are keen to assist in a more flexible way. So, what can you do if you find yourself in this predicament? The answer is ‘Informal Volunteering’!

What Is Informal Volunteering?

Informal Volunteering is described as supporting friends, neighbours, and community members independently of any third-party organisation, and without financial compensation of any kind (GOV.UK, 2021; Volunteer Scotland, 2015). It involves spending time and energy to help out in people’s day-to-day life, e.g. buying groceries, fetching their medicine, or assisting elderly friends, neighbours or community members.

The Benefits, Beneficiaries, And Importance Of Informal Volunteering

Whether you are a key worker or working from home, if you think that you have the capacity to help those affected the most by the current conditions, you should consider doing so! Many families and individuals were catapulted into poverty since the government’s COVID-19 restrictions and policies, especially those barely making ends meet pre-Covid (Improvement Service, 2020).

When individuals are unable to afford the most basic things such as food, or pay their bills, informal volunteers can be a lifeline. For one, it provides regular social contact which is important for people’s mental health. Then it also provides relief, knowing there is someone to help them out when they need it the most, and is completing activities they are struggling with.

Whatever it is you have been doing to help your friends, neighbours and others in our community in need of help, it is an invaluable contribution during such difficult and uncertain times!

How Informal Volunteering Can Look Like In Your Day-To-Day Life

Irrespective of how busy your day-to-day life is, you could get involved in around your current commitments.  The beauty of volunteering, especially informal volunteering, is that it should be flexible around you and your schedule!

If you have a bit of free time at some point in your week, there are a variety of options you could consider, from assisting someone with their gardening; offering to walk their dog(s); or nipping to the shop/pharmacy. Something as simple as putting your neighbours bin out, or ensuring you have a chat with them when you see them can have a positive impact.

Concrete Suggestions For How You Can Get Started

Reach out to your friends and check in with them. That is the perfect way to find out who is seriously struggling and in need of support. With social distancing policies and another lockdown in place, it is easy to neglect social connections. Lack of social contact is hard on everyone, so your first step should be to check in with everyone.

The next step would be to keep an eye out for your neighbours and to have a chat with them to see if they might need help in any way. Sometimes a friendly face and a short conversation is all someone needs!

Where To Get Help

The Community Care Guide on our website provides a comprehensive overview of what organisations can be contacted for help. Please do not hesitate to reach out if assistance is needed!

Volunteering Support

If you would like assistance in starting your volunteering journey, CTSI’s dedicated volunteer development team are here to help, so please get in touch on 01259 213 840 or christopher.white@ctsi.org.uk.

Summary

  • Informal Volunteering is defined as helping friends, neighbours, and community members in need, without the involvement of a third party or financial compensation.
  • Informal volunteers can be a lifeline for those affected the most by the current conditions.
  • Informal Volunteering provides its beneficiaries regular social contact (socially distanced of course!) and a sense of relief, knowing there is someone helping them out in when they need it most.
  • Informal Volunteering does not have to take up big bits of your time! There are tasks and activities for every schedule and the friends, neighbours, and community members you are helping out will greatly appreciate it!
  • You are wondering how to get started? Have a chat with people! Get an overview of who is in need and where you can help out.
  • Check out our Community Care Guide to see which organisations to contact for help!
  • Need assistance in starting your volunteering journey? Where are here to help! Feel free to get in touch on 01259 213 840 or email christopher.white@ctsi.org.uk.

Resources

GOV.UK. (2021, January 11). A look at volunteering during the response to COVID-19. GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-look-at-volunteering-during-the-response-to-covid-19/a-look-at-volunteering-during-the-response-to-covid-19

Improvement Service. (2020). Poverty, Inequality and COVID-19—A brief summary of some issues and potential impact on those living in socio-economic disadvantage. https://www.improvementservice.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/16402/Poverty-inequality-and-COVID19-briefing.pdf

Volunteer Scotland. (2015). Volunteering ‘below the radar’? Informal volunteering in deprived urban Scotland: Research summary. https://www.volunteerscotland.net/media/624210/mw_phd_summary_30_07_15.pdf

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