There’s a high chance that volunteering will be far from people’s minds at the moment, and that’s completely understandable. Being healthy, and keeping loved ones safe, will undoubtedly be at the forefront of everyone’s priorities and our thoughts are with anyone who has been affected either in the LSE community or outside it. However, we wanted to share some advice about how you can navigate this period and how students can continue to contribute to their communities. In relation to all of the below we heavily recommend you follow the advice that’s been provided by LSE and the UK government and do not take undue risks with your personal health.
Helping those affected by COVID-19
The Volunteer Centre has been contacted by many students, staff and alumni asking how they can help those most adversely affected at the moment. We are currently in the process of speaking to partners and we’ll add relevant opportunities to the list below and on this Twitter thread as we receive them. Organisations such as foodbanks, community groups and those helping the elderly are most in need and donating items or money to these groups will make an invaluable difference. Follow their social media and websites to see if and when they are looking to recruit volunteers. Please note that your car insurance won’t be affected if you are volunteering to help others affected by COVID-19. If you are a charity looking to recruit please read about how the LSE community can support you.
- COVID Mutal Aid bring together local groups that can support each other. There are ones in Camden, Westminster and Southwark, amongst others.
- Help cards to assist those self-isolating
- Donate blood
- The Felix Project to help distribute food that would otherwise go to waste
- Emergency collections for AGE UK Camden
- Dare to care packages
- Help redistribute food with City Harvest. They are also looking for donations of ambient goods, personal care items and other products
- You can sign up to the British Red Cross’ community reserve volunteers scheme
- Chefs in Schools are looking to coordinate groups who can deliver food to vulnerable people
- Octavia Foundation are looking for telephone befrienders to combat loneliness in those who are isolating
- CHIPS in Brixton are looking for phone line volunteers, family support volunteers and errand running volunteers
- Brightside are looking for more volunteer mentors, to support children who have had their school education disrupted
- UN Volunteers are recruiting from all over the world.
- Support your local foodbank
- Become a citizen scientist with The Young Foundation
- yourneighbour.org are in need of a number of different volunteers to coordinate a UK church response to the crisis
- Be Enriched are looking for people to help with cooking and delivering meals in Lambeth and Wandsworth
In the mean time following instructions from public health agencies, being kind and empathising with those that are finding it difficult at this time are some of the best things that you can do to help your community.
Staying safe when supporting others
It’s important to stay safe when supporting others. Use the following instructions created by NCVO:
- Let family and friends know what you are doing and where you are going
- Support family, friends and neighbours by phone or video call
- Stay at least two metres or about three steps away from people you’re helping
- Offer to run errands for people but stay outside of people’s homes
- Keep washing your hands, often, for 20 seconds
- Don’t take on too much as it’s often better not to offer at all than to let someone down
- If you’re trying to help someone with very serious issues then don’t be afraid to flag with appropriate statutory services
This is one thing that anyone can start right away and continue to do over the coming weeks and months. It can be done from anywhere with an internet connection, which is very convenient at the present time. Check out some of the options below:
- UN Volunteers have numerous roles
- Transcribing anti-slavery manuscripts
- Be an online mentor with The Prince’s Trust
- Citizen Science Projects with NASA Science
- Transcribing historical documents for the Imperial War Museum
- Helping those who are vulnerable by mapping areas for humanitarian organisations
- Tagging wild animal sightings with ZSL
- Translators without borders need people who speak more than one language
- Zooniverse have a number of online projects exploring arts, climate and history amongst many more
- Help From Home is a database of online volunteering opportunities
- Be My Eyes is an app that connects visually impaired people with volunteers to help them
So as you can see there are several ways in which you can continue to contribute to our communities, both near and far, during this uncertain time. The Volunteer Centre will remain open and you can contact us via email and/or book an appointment on CareerHub to talk through your options further.