Updated: Nov 16, 2020
2020 has been a strange, strange year. Covid hit us in the face like a Barbara Cartland knuckle duster (really showing my age there), politics has provided us with a histrionic circus and where I am now is most certainly not where I thought I'd be at the beginning of the year.
I had always planned to pick up more voluntary work in 2020, because volunteering makes me happy and I get to meet nice people. The way it's worked out though is that I've done a lot more volunteering than I had originally planned (yay!) and I've also been throwing myself into areas that I wouldn't have imagined, had the pandemic not struck. Examples of this are crisis volunteering with SHOUT 85258, organising furniture donations with a load of AFC Wimbledon fans for the Dons Local Action Group and writing a press release about a 29 year old swan for Leeds Castle (Pickles might just be the UK's oldest swan...).
I wanted to use this post to highlight some of the opportunities I'd signed-up to that I was really excited about, but am unable to do because they have either been cancelled or postponed by Covid. I am still feeling very positive that I have some amazing volunteer opportunities in the pipeline, and when my time comes I will be raring to go!
This is a role that I was offered on the Friday before the first lockdown on 23rd March. After volunteering at the Oval during the Cricket World Cup in 2019, I found out that they have a similar group of volunteers at Surrey County Cricket Club who work in supporter services roles there. I signed-up, was interviewed and subsequently offered a place there which I was thrilled about. I absolutely love cricket - it takes me to a safe space and I love fairweather sports. There was such a lot planned for the 2020 season, and I was really looking forward to being a part of the team there, as well as watching some cricket too.
EURO 2020 Tournament
Like cricket, football took a real hit this year... the EUROs, which were due to take place all across Europe, had a team of ready volunteers who were raring to pitch up at Wembley to welcome supporters from across the continent. With this role, I was due to join Team Ace, which was more of a supervisory role, so I was really looking forward to finding out a little bit more about how these mammoth tournaments are organised. The tournament will now take place in 2021, which makes me wonder if the EURO 2020 microfibre beach towel they gave me at the interview will be worth anything on eBay... Also, I wonder, what will they be doing with all of the now-obsolete uniform and merchandise that has 2020 written on it? I sincerely hope that they will give it away to people in need. Volunteer organisations love a fleece or a hoodie, and they will defintelly go a long way to helping the homeless.
ZSL London Zoo
In another visitor services role, this voluntary opportunity has been cancelled due to the second lockdown, so I'm really hoping to be back at the zoo by early December. I'd completed the interview and the induction and already made friends with some volunteer colleagues and was absolutely raring to go. The only thing I'm still waiting on is my red fleece, which hopefully will be ready when I start my first shift. I'm still getting regular email updates from the Zoo about how they're doing, who's been talking about them in the press and they're running regular coffee mornings for the volunteers. It's a great community that I can't wait to join in person!
Cricket Without Boundaries
I've been volunteering with CWB since January, helping them with their LinkedIn page and various social media design aspects, but I was really looking forward to doing a bit more to help this wonderful little volunteer-led charity raise funds and awareness. They have had to cancel all of the projects that they were running or planning to run, because they send cricket coaches out to various countries in sub-Saharan Africa to educate people on HIV through the medium of cricket - and this was just not possible. While they have been able to remotely support some of the projects and help their ambassadors, they are still always looking for equipment to send out to their partner countries to help coach more coaches - so if you happen to have any cricket equipment lying around that you want to get rid of, this is a great cause to give it to. If you're interested in getting involved sooner, we have a quiz coming up on World AIDS Day on 1st December - join us and help raise funds for an amazing cause!
Volunteering at the Library
This is a really strange opportunity to be lost because of lockdown, but alas, my library volunteer sessions have been paused. I had been due to pick books and audiobooks for people who are unable to get out and about or are shielding, yet they've stopped this service for the time being. What an absolute shame! I really do love hanging out at the library, and the service which delivers books to people who can't get out seems like a service that should be kept going throughout lockdown. Fingers-crossed, I will be called in soon!