Traditionally, volunteering has been associated with getting out of your home and having a positive impact on your local community. But technology means it’s easier than ever to donate your time and skills without having to set foot outside your front door.
Covid-19 may mean you’re cautious about volunteering outside your home or you may simply want volunteering to fit around a busy schedule. Whatever your reasons, volunteering at home can be just as rewarding and have a real impact on good causes. If you’re not sure how you can support local charities and organisations, here are six ideas to get you started.
1. Lend an ear over the phone
Loneliness is a real problem in the UK. Some people can feel isolated, and the pandemic has meant more people than ever have felt this way. Volunteering to be a friendly voice on the other end of a phone can make a world of difference to vulnerable people.
Scheduling regular phone calls with people who are unable to leave their homes, or have limited social contact, can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing. Age UK connects volunteers with vulnerable people for this purpose or you may have a local charity that is providing support to people near you.
2. Provide support through a hotline
Much like the above, providing support through a hotline can be done with just your phone. However, where it differs is that you’ll be providing specific support to people that get in touch. You may be able to choose set hours or days where you will handle incoming calls.
Charities and organisations will provide training on managing crisis calls. Depending on the organisation, it’s important to note that some calls may be distressing or challenging. But for some people with the skills to manage this, working as part of a hotline team means you can have a real impact on people’s lives at times when they need support the most.
3. Pass on your skills virtually
Whether you’re a whizz at maths or have an in-depth knowledge of a specialist area, it is possible to pass on your skills and knowledge without stepping out of your front door. Zoom and other video meeting platforms are a great way to pass on information. This could include regular meetings to coach a GCSE student from a disadvantaged background or being part of a webinar series that passes on essential life skills to young adults. It can be a great way to share your experience and knowledge with other people and an opportunity to learn from them too.
4. Use your language skills
If you can speak another language, translating and interpreting skills are in high demand and can benefit charities and other good causes right from your desk.
Charities, particularly those working with immigrants or refugees, may have a variety of texts that need translating to ensure they’re able to effectively deliver the support they offer. This could range from medical texts through to government forms. Being able to act as a virtual interpreter during meetings or calls can also help organisations make full use of their resources.
5. Take part in scientific research
Help further scientific research by donating your time. Researchers often rely on volunteers to take tests and surveys, and it can be difficult for them to gather a large enough group to draw conclusions. While some research will require volunteers to travel to an office or lab, others can be done online. One example is Project Implicit from Harvard, which aims to measure attitudes and beliefs in a variety of areas.
6. Transfer your professional skills
During your working life, you’ve likely acquired many skills that can be put to use when supporting charities. Charities are complex organisations and even local charities are likely to have a range of tasks and functions they need to complete, from administrative duties to project management.
Thinking about how your skills can translate to the charitable sector can put them to good use, and you may not have to leave your home. Getting in touch with a charity that you admire, and outlining your skills and the commitment you can make, can help you create the perfect role for you.