As we emerge from the restrictions of the pandemic, what will the next year hold for voluntary organisations? Volunteering has been a mixed picture throughout the past two years of the pandemic. Across the country, many more people got involved in informal volunteering to help those in their communities during the lockdowns – from helping shielding neighbours with shopping or prescription drop offs to volunteering to telephone people who were feeling very isolated. It was unfortunate that many groups/services supported by volunteers were unable to meet due to the lockdowns. In some cases, it was easy enough to move meetings/events online, but many people agree that it’s not quite the same as meeting in-person.
This situation across the country has been mirrored in Dyslexia Scotland. We were able to move many of our services/events/meetings online and the volunteers attached to those activities were able to volunteer from home (mostly via Zoom):
- Our Helpline volunteers were supported to continue to run the Helpline from their homes;
- Our Branches were able to run many of their meetings/events online;
- Our Adult Network facilitators were able to facilitate our adult network meetings online;
- Our Career Mentor Volunteers were able to continue supporting clients via telephone and online;
- Our Ambassadors and Young Ambassadors were able to continue a proportion of their work online;
- Our Board member volunteers were able to hold quarterly meetings, the annual review day and Members Day/AGM online.
However, it was much harder for some of our volunteers to continue volunteering in the way that they had been doing before the pandemic. For example, we normally have around twenty volunteers helping at our annual education conference in a variety of roles, but because the conference has been online for the past two years, less volunteers were needed to support this event.
I am hopeful that as restrictions are being lifted and as people start to get used to the ‘new normal’, we’ll be able to run some in-person meetings/events in 2022. I look forward to supporting our Events volunteers, who have been on a hiatus for some time, to help at some in-person events as the year goes on. And I’m sure many of our other volunteers who have continued volunteering online for the past two years will be really keen to get back to meeting people in-person again.
The pandemic has proved to be a real revelation into just what volunteering can continue online and I feel humbled and immensely proud of all of our amazing volunteers who have continued volunteering (or supported us in other ways while on hiatus), throughout a challenging time for us all. A thousand thank yous to them all!
Although, we’re not quite at the stage of recruiting new volunteers at the moment, please do keep an eye on our volunteering page for an imminent volunteering role advert and have a look for some opportunities that you can do from home to raise awareness of dyslexia.
Helen Fleming, Volunteers Manager