This blog is part of a series that celebrates the stories of volunteers during #VolunteersWeek2020. The amazing people across Leeds that volunteered as Community Care Volunteers in response COVID-19 have made supporting vulnerable people across Leeds possible. Read their stories and find out more about the people who have been uplifting their communities.
Volunteering is a way of life for Leeds resident, Colin Lewisohn. He had prior experience volunteering for the Samaritans, Wheatfields Hospice and RVS before becoming a Community Care Volunteer in response to COVID19.
As a Community Care Volunteer at St Edmunds Church in Roundhay, Colin’s usual volunteer roles have been altered in light of the current circumstances; some projects he was working on have been cancelled altogether. He works more remotely now, adapting to support people on line or by phone. He also delivers food shopping and activity packs to elderly people that can help to keep them occupied whilst at home.
Colin explains more about his Volunteering experience and how helping his community during COVID-19 has impacted him.
Why did you become a Community Care volunteer?
My traditional volunteering roles suddenly stopped and were no longer available. I found myself instantly un-employed and I wanted to be busier. I thought if I can’t do that stuff, I could do something else. Voluntary work for me is all about purpose in life and fulfilling my values and I wanted to respond to the community need, during COVID-19.
Tell us more about your work with the Leeds City Council as a Community Care Volunteer?
In my role as volunteer, I currently shop for an elderly couple who are shielding and live locally. I go to Tesco with their shopping list. I drop the shopping off to the couple and the lady is an absolute darling, she sends me away with a food parcel, onion bhajis and curry, it’s a real perk. It takes about an hour to do the shopping including delivering and loading my car with curry.
How has volunteering during the COVID-19 crisis made you feel?
It makes me feel the same as outside of the COVID19 crisis. There was a poverty crisis before COVID-19, it’s just COVID-19 has highlighted it more. There are more people in emotional crisis, being separated from friends and relatives.
I do my voluntary work for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that I’m a humanist and I am a socialist and both of those labels means that what I want to do in my life is try and make the world a better place. Making the world a better place is about helping individuals with their lives. Anything I can do to help people bring down the barriers in their lives.
Volunteering makes me be the person I want to be. I get paid for it but not financially – it’s an essential part of my existence.
Do you have a message to anyone thinking about volunteering?
There’s such a lot to be gained by volunteering if you find the right thing.