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Volunteering from Home: Connection, Support and Innovation

This Volunteers’ Week, 1-7 June, we are celebrating the determination, adaptability and patience of Shelter Scotland volunteers in what has been a very challenging past year. As we continue to face the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic the importance of everyone, including volunteers, having a safe and comfortable home is clear. The uncertainty we’ve all faced together has shown us the immense value and humanity of our volunteers who have gone above and beyond in the fight for home.

Over the past year, volunteers have adapted to huge changes, either volunteering from home or sticking to strict social distancing measures while working in our shops. Many haven’t volunteered for over a year or have seen their opportunities to volunteer seriously reduced. For some, this has added to their feelings of isolation, loneliness and anxiety. As we bounce back from restrictions to our daily lives, the resilience of our volunteers during this time is so apparent:

“My role is evolving to help me develop new skills and knowledge. I feel my impact is increasing.”

“Especially throughout the pandemic I feel more like a vital part of the Shelter Scotland team. I have been more involved in the work Shelter Scotland is carrying out across the board and their plans for going forward.”

At Shelter Scotland, we invest a lot of time getting to know our volunteers. In return, they give us their time, skills, passion and loyalty. Many volunteers have reached out to us for support during the pandemic. Our Volunteer Support Officer, Anthea, is a trained mental health first aider so is well equipped to provide this support. We also held fortnightly ‘virtual cuppa’ zoom calls. This made space for volunteers to support each other too.

 “Loving every minute of my volunteering and it has helped to combat my loneliness”

“The opportunities for casual catch ups really helped with being stuck in the house”.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also sparked innovation and creativity in how we work. We have taken all our regular volunteer engagement and support online, which has helped to create a stronger sense of belonging in our volunteer community. It is the ideal forum for volunteers from different parts of the organisation to share local needs, experiences and ideas. This also led to the piloting of a telephone befriending service in our Edinburgh Hub.

“I always feel supported and included in the team.”

“Shelter Scotland has continued to encourage and promote my volunteering during the last year.”

As we pivot to new ways of delivering our services, volunteers have risen to the challenge with passion and determination. Some have trained for new roles or joined different teams to continue supporting us. The move to virtual ways of working has broken down geographical boundaries for our volunteers and will no doubt lead to more inclusive volunteering in Shelter Scotland in the future.

Last week we launched our new brand. We will inspire people to join our fight for home and let anyone with a housing problem know that we’re on their side and we’ll protect their rights. Our volunteers are some of our most dedicated supporters. They are warriors in our fight for home. Here’s to them this Volunteers’ Week.

“Our volunteers have had to adapt to change regularly and work around lots of the challenges that lockdown has presented us. We know that it can’t have been easy […] and we are extremely thankful.” – Stephen Vallely, Helpdesk Manager