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Volunteers’ Week 2020 – Emma’s story

2 Jun 2020

Supporting our charity partners

As we mark Volunteers’ Week, running 1-7June, we’re sharing stories from Octopus volunteers, showing the impact of our work in local communities. From helping people and organisations, to creating a feelgood factor for volunteers, it can be positive for everyone involved. 

This is true for Emma Ward, one of our learning and development managers. Since April, she has been working with the charity partners supported by Octopus Giving.

We have four partners. They include financial education charity MyBnk, which reaches 32,000 young people a year (Source: www.mybnk.com) and Down syndrome charity Downright Excellent, working for nearly 15 years to help children develop their skills.

We also support The Choir with No Name, which runs choirs for homeless and marginalised people across the country, and FoodCycle, producing meals for vulnerable people in communities and getting food to over 1,400 people every week. (Source: https://www.foodcycle.org.uk).   

We’re really proud to be working with our charity partners, which are supporting people in need, working to right inequalities and increasing understanding of key issues. In doing so, they’re helping to build a more just society.

However, all our partners have faced the challenges posed by social distancing measures as coronavirus (COVID-19) spread. They were looking for ways to continue raising money, get their message across, and help their communities. Emma wanted to contribute to them continuing their work.  

Helping charities through challenges

Emma organised two remote workshops, giving staff a chance to come together and share experiences. The events became forums where people could ask for advice from their peers and from Octopus. Emma also used guides for the charities that our teams had created.

It was important for people to simply be able to share and talk about how they were feeling. This went hand in hand with defining requirements. Says Emma, “The workshops became a real source of support and the practical tips offered hopefully gave our partners starting points and processes to take back to and try with their teams.

The amazing guides for charities that my colleagues had put together covered everything from keeping afloat financially to working remotely. Using these, we also discussed things like using Zoom.”

Benefits for volunteers

Many of us have had to deal with our own feelings about COVID-19, from worrying about loved ones to living in isolation. Volunteering can help us to find a way through, giving a chance to connect with others while social distancing.

Says Emma, “The sessions were hugely impactful for me. I love meeting and talking to people, and they were such a great bunch – all so positive and so passionate about what they do, which was really infectious.

I also found it incredibly humbling to hear about the struggles that charities and individuals are facing at this time. It really made me appreciate how easy it has been for me to transition to working from home. I am now just very grateful to be in the position I’m in.

To have the chance to support charities doing such an incredible job is something I am very proud of. Volunteering is one of the best things I have done this year.”

For more on Volunteers’ Week see: https://volunteersweek.org. To learn more about Octopus Giving, and our charity partners, see: https://octopusgroup.com/about/octopus-giving/

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