This blog is part of a series that celebrates the stories of the amazing Community Care Volunteers that have been supporting vulnerable people across Leeds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read their stories and find out more about the people who have been uplifting their communities.
Oscar Knight finished his PhD in Biomedical Engineering just before lockdown kicked in. Although he has had previous experience volunteering, his work as a Community Care Volunteer has allowed him to visit different communities in Leeds, which has been an eye-opening experience for him.
Oscar explains how volunteering during COVID-19 has impacted his life and why other people should volunteer in the future.
Why did you decide to become a Community Care Volunteer?
I thought to myself, “what can I do with my time? I can’t just sit here - I need to find something I can do.” I saw on Facebook that Voluntary Actions Leeds were looking for Community Care Volunteers. As I am driver, I thought this would be a useful thing to offer. Hunslet Involve got in touch with me quite soon after.
What I loved about my volunteer induction was that Hunslet Involve were clear with me about what my role was going to be. They asked me how much time I was willing to offer, so we agreed that I would come in three days a week.
What volunteer role are you doing and what does this entail?
I am a delivery driver, taking food parcels and shopping anywhere they are needed in the Hunslet and Riverside Ward.
What does a normal day as a Community Care Volunteer entail?
I start my day at the centre and depending on how many people we have in that day, I sometimes help to pack too. I then load the car with food parcels to deliver, or take shopping to people’s homes.
It’s really important that you check in on people’s welfare when you’re dropping off the food parcels.
How has volunteering during the COVID-19 crisis made you feel?
It’s been a real eye-opener for me. I visited places in the ward that I never thought I would have gone. It’s important to see first-hand how different communities are living.
What has really struck me is the amazing community spirit that people have together locally.
Have you had any previous experience as a volunteer?
I’ve done some voluntary tutoring for A-level physics students, giving additional input outside of lessons to try and help pupils achieve. I found this a really rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Not only that either, I volunteer with a project called “pint of science”, where researchers from universities go out into communities, pubs, cafés, and talk about up-to-date, often local, research. It’s about getting the public into pubs to listen to scientists. It takes the formality out of it and people always find it fascinating.
What’s your message for anyone thinking about volunteering?
Definitely do it if you have the capacity. It does take time and you have to be willing to experience some tough parts, but the rewards are so much greater.
It’s been a really good experience for me and I really want to keep going with it.
The Community Care Volunteering Programme is not currently accepting applications from new volunteers but there are still lots of other volunteering opportunities available in Leeds. To find out more, please visit https://doinggoodleeds.org.uk/i-want-to-volunteer/