Volunteer Stories: “It makes me feel like I’m making the most of my time”
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. Honour explains how and why she decided to become a Community Care volunteer at Hunslet Involve.
How has your normal daily life changed during the coronavirus outbreak?
I’ve always kept myself busy, working 9-to-5 and I’m always active with clubs and activities in the evening. I have still managed to keep up a bit of exercise and use my one-hour a day to keep running.
Why did you decide to become a Community Care Volunteer?
On the day I found out I was furloughed I thought it would be nice. Now I have time, which I’ve never had before, and there is a greater need.
I applied to the NHS scheme at the same time, but Pete from Involve rang me more or less straightaway to set up my shifts. I really enjoy what I’m doing. It gives me a good routine. Involve have been great all the way through and they’ve really met my expectations. I heard about the scheme through a friend who pointed me in the direction of VAL’s website.
What volunteer role are you doing? And what does this entail?
Generally, I’ll be packing parcels – it’s not just all the same though, as you need to check who the parcels are for. So, for example if there is a family of four, there might only be one jar of coffee but you would add additional fresh products to suit the needs of the people you’re delivering to.
The food parcels are a really good mixture of dry goods, tins and fresh food as well. It’s a mixture of the food parcels we get from Leeds City Council and deliveries from the Real Junk Food Project, along with help from local businesses and supermarkets too. I also do shopping for people as well with the voucher scheme that is in place.
How has volunteering during the COVID-19 crisis made you feel?
It’s really nice to do something positive. It makes me feel like I’m making the most of my time. It’s given me a better understanding of the city that I live in and it’s made me more aware of challenges that families in our ward face. It’s made me more mindful about volunteering in the future.
Have you had any previous experience as a volunteer?
No I haven’t, but I’m certain now I’ve made this commitment, I’m more likely to [volunteer] in future. In the past I would have been far more likely to give my money rather than my time to charity, but this has changed me. I realise it doesn’t take much to make a difference.
What’s your message for anyone thinking about volunteering?
Give it a go! You might be a bit nervous because you don’t know what to expect, but they will guide you. Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to change the world!
Any other comments you’d like to make or add that you think would be interesting in relation to your story:
I live in the city centre and it has been really interesting to see the split between the Riverside and Hunslet parts of the ward, it has opened my eyes.
Volunteers can offer practical support for vulnerable people (such as shopping deliveries, preparing meals, making check-in phone calls) or can sign-up as an informal volunteer to help within their own neighbourhood in more general ways. The Leeds City Council helpline is available so that people in need of support can call 0113 378 1877 to be matched with a local volunteer who can help.
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/