Volunteer Week: By Helping Other People, You Will Help Yourself
Amazing people across Leeds have been volunteering in response to COVID-19 and have made supporting vulnerable people within the city possible.
The Community Care Volunteering programme was established by Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) and Leeds City Council to ensure those in need could access voluntary support. The VAL team spoke to volunteers that were participating in the Community Care Volunteering programme and collected their volunteer stories during the first national lockdown last year.
At the time of this interview, retired teacher Paul Foley was volunteering at Groundwork in Drighlington, Robin Hood and Morely areas of Leeds.
Paul gives an insight into why he signed up to become a Community Care Volunteer and how volunteering has impacted his life.
How has your work situation changed?
I would say that volunteering has changed my life – not COVID-19. I have always wanted to keep busy. ,
Why did you decide to become a Community Care Volunteer?
The idea of staying at home and reading about people who are unable to go out for food would be really difficult. I find it difficult to stay at home knowing that there were opportunities out there to help.
What volunteer role are you doing? And what does this entail?
I have three different tasks that I do. I have built up a good relationship with local pharmacies. I go and pick up people’s medication and drop it off for them at their home. I also do shopping for people, and help drop off food parcels for other families.
How has volunteering during the COVID-19 crisis made you feel? Explain your experience and how it’s impacted you so far.
It’s not entirely altruistic, the response gave me something too. I really enjoy doing it and gain a lot from it. It’s now become part of my routine – five afternoons a week I head to Groundwork and complete the allocated tasks.
Paul pictured with his certificate for completing his hundredth task for Groundwork
Have you had any previous experience as a volunteer?
I had lots of volunteer experience through my career as a teacher.
What’s your message for anyone thinking about volunteering?
By helping other people you will help yourself. Volunteering makes you feel good. It gives you something to look forward to and it’s the best thing for boredom.
Any other comments you’d like to make or add that you think would be interesting in relation to your story:
My rule of thumb is that if you are nice to people, they are nice back. I think that volunteering within the community is a useful experience for any young person, especially on a CV when applying to universities or for jobs.
Volunteering also gives you food for thought about what you want to do – potentially giving you career experience.
Also a message to any potential volunteers – I can see this lasting for a long time for vulnerable people, may be at least the end of the year  so there’s loads of time left to still get involved and volunteer to help out locally.
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/volunteering/volunteer-opportunities/