Summer 2020 looks set to be like no summer before it. With most of the world still wavering under the weight of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it seems that 2020’s summer pastimes will include far fewer mediteraran beaches and a lot more London staycations.
But interestingly, the lack of travel opportunities this summer clashes with another big shift in society - the desire to do good. Volunteering is on the rise, with more young people wanting to dedicate their time and energy to helping out a good cause. And with less to do this summer, there’s never been a better time to make your spare time really count.
In the article, we list some of the ways you can get involved in volunteering in London. We’ll highlight opportunities that involve using the skills you already have to those that will help you develop new ones. We’ll even discuss ways you can volunteer in person and remotely.
Why should you volunteer?
It’s no secret that volunteering is an incredibly rewarding thing to do. That’s because it offers something positive to everyone involved - the volunteer as much as the beneficiary. Let’s have a look at some of the main reasons why you should consider volunteering.
Volunteering makes you feel good about yourself
Actively doing good deeds makes you feel good - there’s no denying that. In fact, many happiness studies have found that the happiest people in the world are people who engage in proactive acts of kindness, rather than those who give passively, such as donating money.
Seeing the good that you’re doing in person can have a huge impact on your own self worth and how you see the world. All this can improve your self esteem and your purpose while also keeping you more humble.
Volunteering has a positive impact on your community
The obvious benefit of volunteering is the positive impact it has on your community. By helping charities or low income organisations with their non-profit work, you’re often filling the gaps where organisations can’t afford paid workers. By donating your time and skills, you’re really helping to strengthen your community.
That in turn can help bring you closer to your community. By playing an active and positive role in the area you live in, you’ll feel a stronger connection to your home.
Volunteering lets you meet new people
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people. If you’re new to London or you’ve moved to a new neighbourhood, finding a place to volunteer is a great way to get to know the area and the people who live there. Many people who volunteer end up with friends for life.
Volunteering lets you develop your skills and learn new ones
Donating your time allows you to explore new skills and use the ones you already have in a professional setting.
This real life experience can help you sharpen any skills you need for future paid work, as well as help develop new ones that you can add to your CV. All the while, you’re helping your local community thrive and grow. It’s a win-win!
Ways you can volunteer in London this summer
London is full of opportunities for volunteers. It’s home to a huge number of charities, non-profit organisations and social programmes that are in regular need of people to help out. So, no matter what your skill set is, there’s a volunteering opportunity for everyone in London.
Let’s explore some of them.
Volunteer in charity shops
Since June 2020, non-essential shops have started to reopen across Britain, meaning London’s charity shops have, too.
Working in a charity shop is a great way to connect with local people, use your interpersonal skills and learn about everything from cashing up to organising stock. You can donate as much time as you’re able to, and you’ll meet an amazing range of people who also volunteer in the shop.
You can also support some of Britain's key charities - charities that do amazing things with the profits they generate from their shops.
The Red Cross, Oxfam, British Heart Foundation and Save the Children all have a number of shops in and around London. You can follow each of the links above and find out how to become a shop volunteer.
Help Compliments of the House help more people
Compliments of the house is a registered food redistribution charity that collects fresh, surplus food and gives it to people in need. Based in Brixton, this organisation is always on the hunt for people who can help with office admin or fundraising. They also need people to collect, sort and redistribute surplus food to those in need.
The charity’s aim is to have at least one hub in every London borough, and they’re looking for as much manpower as possible to help them reach that goal.
You can find out how to get involved by heading to their website.
Volunteer at local food banks
Recent figures show that more families than ever now rely on food banks to feed their family. Add the coronavirus pandemic to the mix, and there’s now a bigger dependency than ever on food banks in London.
As a result, these food banks need more volunteers to help make sure as many people as possible can benefit from them.
The Trussell Trust accounts for most food banks in London and throughout the UK, and offer a range of ways for volunteers to get involved. Head to their website to find out how you can help this summer.
Volunteer and help a young person in need
For people looking to make a difference beyond just the summer, signing up to become an Independent Visitor (IV) with NYAS (National Youth advocacy service) can be an incredible way to really make a difference to someone’s life.
An IV is an adult volunteer who works to develop a long-term friendship with a young person in care. A volunteer meets with the young person and helps them develop new interests, skills and hobbies. They might also go on outings such as cinema trips, bowling trips or even just a stroll in the park.
You’ll be carefully matched with a child or young person in care who lives in your local area and shares similar interests to you. You’ll be expected to dedicate at least two years with the same young person, so make sure you’ll be able to stick around for that long before dedicating yourself to the cause. Find out more about how to get involved on the NYAS website.
Volunteer to minimise food waste
Plan Zheroes helps food businesses easily and safely donate their surplus food to nearby charities and community groups. Its broad aim is to minimise food waste while simultaneously helping people most in need.
By volunteering with Plan Zheroes, you can get involved depending on your availability, personal interests and talents. For example, you can start off by helping transport food from donors to receivers. Or, you can try your hand at finding businesses who might want to sign up for the scheme. Or, you can help find charities who would make use of excess food. Avid networkers can even help build relationships between charities and businesses. Either way, there’s a lot of opportunity to do social good as well as minimise food waste. Find out more at Plan Zheroes.
Remote volunteering opportunities
With the coronavirus pandemic still in full force across the world, we understand that you might want to spend more time indoors this summer. However, that doesn’t mean volunteering is off the table. In fact, finding a way to volunteer from home can be a great way to help out while keeping yourself and others safe.
There are loads of organisations that need remote volunteers to help them with everything from social media account management to phone support. Here’s a few of them.
Become a crisis volunteer with Shout
Shout makes it possible to help someone through a mental health crisis even when you’re not with them. It’s a free 24/7 text messaging platform that anyone can use when dealing with mental health issues such as grief, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts.
It was launched by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May 2019, and volunteers are needed to text back and forth until the person experiencing a mental health crisis is feeling calmer. All that’s asked is that you can commit to 25 hours of online training and be able to help out with 200 total hours of volunteering,or about 2 – 4 hours volunteering per week.
Find out how you can become a crisis volunteer with shout.
Help your community during the pandemic with Re-action
The re-action program aims to take concrete action in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Volunteers are grouped into 10-15 people and given all the tools and ideas they need to inspire collective enthusiasm in their community, based on their own interests and skills. The idea behind the program is to help both the community as much as the volunteers, with the idea that “taking action makes you feel more optimistic about the situation,” and that “taking care of others makes you happy.”
Find out more and sign up on their website.
Volunteer your media skills with Glimpse
If you want to sharpen your creative or media skills, or use them for the greater good on top of your day job, volunteering with Glimpse might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Glimpse is a collective of creatives who use their commercial skills for good. It helps support a huge range of social projects across the UK, and everything is run entirely by volunteers working from home.
They’re in constant need of copywriters, strategists, designers, artists, social media experts, fundraisers, avid networkers and anything in between. If you fit any of those descriptions and want to get involved, head to the glimpse website.
Adopt a grandparent remotely
It’s well known that older people are amongst the most lonely in today’s communities. The Adopt a Grandparent scheme is designed to help older people feel more connected to the younger generation, combat loneliness and help bring a sense of comfort to young people who may not have grandparents of their own.
With the aim of creating long-lasting intergenerational friendships, volunteers from around the world can engage in long distance friendships using video calling and phone calls as a way to build these special relationships. Find out more on their website.
Make the most out of London this summer
Summer 2020 doesn’t have to be the summer of the Netflix binge. Instead, it can be the summer where you really start to make a difference in your beloved community in London.