The importance of volunteering
It’s Volunteers’ Week, taking place from 1-7 June every year, and bringing a chance to thank volunteers nationwide, along with those at Octopus. As we all navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has created a greater need for volunteers, the event is even more important this year. At Octopus, volunteering is a massive part of what we do. In turn we’re here to support volunteers and all those who need them, especially at this time.
At our foundation Octopus Giving, we believe that charitable work is about providing far more than just money. So, we don’t just offer a few volunteer days each year but encourage our people to volunteer all year round. We also provide plenty of opportunities to connect with charities, from putting them in touch with our partners to supporting social impact projects.
Louise Skinner, Head of Octopus Giving, explains: “In the last year the percentage of people at Octopus volunteering has tripled, something we’re really proud of. More recently we launched a new initiative, Giving Your Way, to drive volunteering at scale across the business. Since the pandemic began, we haven’t let it stop us but have found other ways to continue volunteering.”
As part of our work, we’re supporting Volunteers’ Week by putting volunteering at the forefront for the next five days. This starts with highlighting its importance, then sharing stories from the Octopus team.
A positive impact
Volunteering can take many forms. But ultimately it’s about taking action and getting involved in something really worthwhile. As a result, it can have a hugely positive impact. This runs from providing cash-strapped charities with resources, to supporting those in need, to benefiting the mental health and wellbeing of volunteers themselves. It’s also a way for them to gain new perspectives and skills.
“You only have to look at the response to the government’s call for volunteers as COVID-19 took hold, with millions offering their time, to see what volunteering means. These people are now providing support in communities across the UK. And many are planning to continue their work once the crisis is over. Volunteering enriches lives, and this has shone through in stories from our team.” says Louise.
Of course, the social distancing measures resulting from COVID-19 have created challenges for volunteers. And this has come at a time when there’s a real need for people to rally together, help out and share their skills. The lockdown was put in place just after we had launched Giving Your Way. However, we have responded by expanding volunteering beyond our charity partners.
We’ve been encouraging people to volunteer in their local community or remotely. As a result, we’ve seen people from around Octopus give their time to help people and organisations that need support right now. Activities cover a variety of work including clearing litter, phone calls with older people, cooking for vulnerable people, working on helplines, and making personal protective equipment.
Louise adds, “With remote working now such a big feature of life, we’re also helping charities get on Zoom so they can continue to provide their services this way. And we’re running cyber-security webinars to help ensure that the people charities support can stay safe online. We’re also helping charities with their financial modelling during what is for most a funding crisis.”
Sharing stories from volunteers
The list of ways in which we can help people and charities affected by COVID-19 goes on and on. This is reflected in stories from our volunteers. They have been doing everything from running workshops for charities, to fundraising for the NHS, making facemasks, delivering shopping, and caring for the elderly. We see the impact they’re having and it’s fantastic.
But whatever they’ve been doing, something all our volunteers have in common is what they have gained from volunteering. A sense of purpose, a community spirit, and more positivity about the situation we’re in. We hope that by sharing their stories you’ll see what a difference volunteering can make all round.
Find out more over this week on our site, or by following us on social. You can also learn more about Volunteers’ Week here: https://volunteersweek.org.