Volunteering during lock down
Volunteers are seldom paid; not because they are worthless, but because they are PRICELESS
Many of you usually volunteer through church activities and we have received a number of enquiries asking how people can help in the current situation. Our calling at present is to become visible and rooted in our communities without endangering ourselves or other people. The single most important action we can all take to help one another and the NHS is to stay at home. This means we need to identify new and different ways of volunteering.
A key message if you are thinking about volunteering outside your home environment, is that you should only do this if you feel well enough and are not in a category who have been advised to shield, self-isolate or in a high-risk group. Most people are anticipating we need to be prepared to take part in a marathon, not a sprint so whatever we offer needs to be sustainable.
Volunteering does not always involve leaving your home.
As a church we are encouraging the informal response of friendly and neighbourly activity. This does not need to be large scale. As a starting point, consider making contact with your five nearest neighbours or five friends by telephone, text or e-mail. A friendly voice or message can help lift spirits and enable subsequent conversations that might identify a further need such as essential shopping, posting mail or walking the dog, but it might also be all the individual needs at that moment, someone to listen to them, to share their troubles or joys. The contact helps everyone, not just potentially vulnerable people to reman connected to their local community and is a non-threatening form of mission, simply helping people in need beyond the boundaries of the church building and congregation.
If an individual requires more help than can be met through neighbourly activity, we are acting as a resource to signpost people to other community groups or statutory agencies. Working in partnership with others is key.
Voluntary Action Sheffield have set up Community hubs and these are intended to offer more intensive and longer-term support than friends or neighbours can offer. As I write this there are 13 such hubs across the city. Take a look at the VAS website vas.org.uk/Sheffield-covid-support-map for the most up to date information on where these hubs are, and how you can both access support or volunteer through them. The hubs nearest to St Mark’s church are St Timothy’s, Crookes covering Broomhill, Crookes, Walkley and Stannington and St Columba Crosspool.
NHS volunteer responders have paused recruitment of volunteers to enable them to process the applications they already have.
Other ways of volunteering include supporting a charity by fundraising in new ways, submitting an article for the Messenger, supporting others to gain IT skills, being part of our online welcome team, cooking and delivering a meal to someone…the possibilities are endless.
Thank you for all you are contributing and remember though we cannot physically touch one another, we can keep in touch.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia