As we move into lockdown 2.0, we are very sad to update that our volunteer centre has had to close to the public for drop-ins and face-face appointments until the lockdown ends. That does not mean we have stopped helping as we are still here working on the telephones and via email to keep the people of Guildford and Waverley connected to volunteering roles, activities and services supporting wellbeing.
Our projects including Welcome Buddies, Welcome to Volunteering, Volunteer Buddies and Social Prescribing continue to operate adapting to the changes. For any questions about any of these projects, you can contact the below project workers directly for more information, or ring us on: 01483565456.
Technology and the internet has been a huge help to us throughout this year’s lockdown and the pandemic so far. It has enabled people to work successfully from home, school children to do their homework and classes remotely, exercise classes and social groups to take place and friends and family to keep connected across the globe, however, this has not been the case for 4.1 million people who are not online in the UK. As a result of this, many people are being left isolated experiencing feelings of loneliness.
How Can We Help People Get Online?
This year’s Get Online Week that runs from 19th-25th October is themed on the idea of helping people to get online, encouraging us all to ensure no-one is left digitally excluded.
In Surrey there are many organisations working hard to help people who may be struggling with technology or do not have access to the equipment. An example of some of these organisations include:
1. Farnham Lions: The Lions in Farnham are refurbishing old laptops and PCs and donating these to children and people in need
2. Age UK Surrey: The Digital Buddies projects is recruiting volunteers to support older people with any technology queries
3. Surrey Coalition of Disabled People: The Coalition has projects to help and educate people about how to use certain types of technology. Projects include: Tech To Community Connect, Tech How To Guides, Technology Enabled Smarter Homes.
World Mental Health Day is on the 10th October. The pandemic and lockdown have dramatically increased the prevalence of mental health challenges globally and it has become more important than ever to ensure we are looking after our own mental health, as well as looking out for others’ too.
With a high volume of changes and instability and the adjustment to working at home, it is integral to do the things that make you feel good and protect your mental wellbeing. Below are two links to websites with tips and ideas about how to look after your mental health during the crisis and how to support friends, family and colleagues.
The Welcome to Volunteering project supports people into volunteering to help increase their confidence and skills. The project provides ongoing support to help people take up and sustain volunteering roles. If you would like to refer someone to the project or ask questions about how Lorraine and Claire can support an individual in the coming months please contact Lorraine Yates, email@example.com.
This project works with people overcoming mental ill-health to integrate into the community and take part in activities that make them feel good. Volunteer buddies are paired with people and will support them into engaging.
Denise Graves needs volunteer buddies to help support those who are recovering from mental-ill health to engage with their community. Social distancing guidelines are being strictly followed. If you have any questions, would like to make a referral or volunteer, please contact Denise Graves, firstname.lastname@example.org
Link Workers for Social Prescribing are based at VASWS and are working with people in Guildford and Waverley to connect them to support and services that make them feel better. Referrals must come through GPs or other health professionals.
2020 has been a strange and challenging year for us all. Through the darkness, though, there has been light and in South West Surrey (and the world beyond the boroughs) we have witnessed amazing acts of kindness and communities pulling together.
In May, the Guardian reported that nearly 10 million adults had been volunteering in their communities in the UK during the crisis. This is phenomenal. At Voluntary Action South West Surrey alone, we registered a huge volume of people within only a few weeks and we are continuing to register keen volunteers today who want to help organisations in Guildford and Waverley.
As we continue to live with the virus and go back to some form of normality, we hope this spirit and willingness to help others continues to be a prominent theme of the year.
If you have left lockdown with more free-time, a desire to help the community or you feel inspired to try something new, give us a ring on 01483 56546 and we will help you start your volunteering journey today.
Volunteering in a Covid World
It can feel scary venturing back out into the world or starting something new such as volunteering after the enforced lockdown and isolation, knowing we are still living with the virus, however, you will be fully supported in your volunteering roles and strict guidelines will be in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved. If you have any questions about this, just get in touch with us and we will put your mind at ease.
There are of course roles that can be done from home such as telephone befriending keeping those experiencing isolation and loneliness company through a friendly telephone chat. Don’t worry if you can’t physically go to a location to volunteer – your help will still be needed.
How to Find Volunteering Roles?
At the volunteer centre we are open two days a week for now, for two hours: Mondays and Thursdays, 10.30am-12.30pm. If you would like advice about volunteering, help in searching for a suitable role or support applying for something, we can organise for a short meeting to take place between these opening times for you and one of our volunteer advisors. The meeting will be informal lasting for up to 15 minutes, all you are required to bring is yourself and ideas! Masks are mandatory in the centre too.
For details about volunteering and the roles available in Guildford and Waverley, you can look at our website, here. If you happen to apply for something online and do not hear a response within two weeks, please let us know and we will chase this up for you.
There are many benefits to be gained by lending a hand in your community, for both the volunteer and those being supported. Read more about that, here. If you can volunteer, please do – it’s this spirit and support that will help us all get through what has been a gruelling and tough experience.
The Welcome to Volunteering team and clients have been keen to get back out in the community to increase their confidence and skills through helping organisations.
Since the easing of lockdown, the team were volunteering in the Yvonne Arnaud theatre’s garden, clearing the overgrown space that has not been touched since the enforced isolation and lockdown, as well as jet washing and painting the outdoor concrete stairs.
10 volunteers contributed towards this work over the course of the five weeks and during their time volunteering, they enjoyed a socially distanced picnic lunch. This has been a great opportunity for the volunteers to chat and socialise. Friendships have formed that did not exist before the project and pandemic and the volunteers have benefited from meeting each week with like-minded people, especially following the tough situation that has caused a lot of disruption and changed usual routines.
Thanks to their hard work, the theatre held an outdoor performance in the garden that would not have been possible without the help of the team.
Welcome Buddies is run by Voluntary Action South West Surrey and is part of the Welcome Project. It aims to help people with mental ill-health move on with their lives through recruiting volunteers to support people to join in with activities in their communities.
The project is run by Denise Graves and David Rose and they have been looking back over the last five months at the changes the enforced isolation and lockdown has caused for the work they have been doing. The changes have been very positive and have enhanced the project.
Initially people wishing to have a volunteer buddy and work on their own personal action plans would meet weekly for a couple of hours with their buddy. Then the lockdown was put in place and it was no longer possible for the clients and buddies to meet face-face.
Instead meetings quickly moved to virtual video calls and regular telephone calls that people enjoyed. Groups would then meet via video call and some pop-up virtual coffee meetings were started.
As the months progressed and the lockdown eased, David and Denise started organising walks with very small groups. This has been a fantastic way for everyone in the project to get to know each other better. Walks have taken place in Guildford, Cranleigh and Bramley and they will continue to organise these weekly as they are proving popular!
Other activities that have been introduced include gardening. For Earth’s Sake, a shop in Cranleigh owned by Vanessa Ford, are offering the team the opportunity to use a bit of their land for growing vegetables and Denise and David are currently working to set this opportunity up, that will hopefully be established by autumn. This will be a good opportunity for clients who simply wish to spend time in a relaxed outdoor setting with a few others.
The team do need garden tools for this venture, anyone who wishes to donate any items please contact Denise on 07825417204 or email email@example.com
Finally,this summer two clients of the project have become peer mentors and as Welcome Buddies progresses, they feel more of a complete team with everyone participating.
Groups meeting via video calls and telephone calls are now a regular part of the project. The Buddies are also about to receive some virtual training from Surrey Live about the importance of physical exercise and mental health.
Volunteers are still needed, particularly volunteers to help accompany people outdoors for walks after a long period of shielding. For more information about the project or to sign up, please ring Denise via 07825417204 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact David Rose, email@example.com