Covid-19/Coronavirus FAQs – Volunteer Guides

Covid-19/Coronavirus

It is anticipated that the current outbreak of Covid-19/Coronavirus will cause general disruption to services, both essential and non-essential. Many people in our communities are keen to help where they can. If you are not currently volunteering but would like to help out in your community then thank you, that is fantastic! Volunteer Centre Western Isles advice for people who are looking to help is simple Think and act locally!

We have put together the following FAQ page to help people who want to help out during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Basic neighbourliness is absolutely vital in a crisis, whether it is extreme weather or coronavirus. There are many ways in which you can make a real impact right where you live:
Check on neighbours, especially anyone who may live alone (regardless of their age), anyone elderly or anyone that may be potentially vulnerable. If someone is self-isolating or unable to get out for whatever reason – can you help by doing practical yet vital tasks such as:
• Collecting a prescription or over the counter medications that may be needed.
• Doing some basic grocery shopping.
• If you are making a meal offer to make a portion for someone who may not be feeling able to cook for themselves.
• Take their bins out on bin day.
• Offering to exercise their dog if they have one and are not able to do this themselves.

It is often the little acts of kindness that have the most impact.
Naturally, if someone is unwell or self-isolating precautions should be taken, but good common sense applies and you should always follow NHS Advice. Remember that offers of support and help can be made by phone, on a note with your contact details put through a letter box or on local neighbourhood online forums such as Nextdoor.

It is important to be aware that the need for people to help will increase over the coming weeks. Most people around you may be OK at the moment but that might not be the case in the weeks to come. We are all going to need good neighbours over the coming months. This is now the time to reach out to neighbours and let them know that you can help. It is important to build relationships so introduce yourself now if you don’t already know your neighbours and let them know you are happy to help.

One of the most significant risks is people’s sense of isolation and loneliness. A phone call, a note through the door or offers of help can make all the difference for someone who may have limited or no contact with others. It’s very simple… it shows that someone cares. Please be a good neighbour.

Covid-19/Coronavirus FAQs
We have put together the following information to help people who are already volunteers and anyone who wants to help out during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

I am already a volunteer what should I do?
In the first instance you should contact the organisation you volunteer with to find out if they are still open and whether you should attend your normal place of volunteering. If you are still required it is likely that your volunteer role will change, for example you may be asked to contact service users by phone rather than face-to-face, or if possible you may be asked to work remotely.
It is also likely that organisations will require volunteers to do new and different roles, please consider what roles are available and whether you would be able to help out.

I’m not currently a volunteer what can I do to help?
If you are not currently volunteering but would like to help out then thank you, that is fantastic. Our advice is very simple: Think and act locally! Basic neighbourliness is absolutely vital in a crisis, whether it is extreme weather or coronavirus. There are many ways in which you can make a real impact right where you live:
Check on neighbours, especially anyone who may live alone (regardless of their age), anyone elderly or anyone that may be potentially vulnerable. If someone is self-isolating or unable to get out for whatever reason – can you help by doing practical yet vital tasks such as:
• Collecting a prescription or over the counter medications that may be needed.
• Doing some basic grocery shopping.
• If you are making a meal offer to make a portion for someone who may not be feeling able to cook for themselves.
• Take their bins out on bin day.
• Offering to exercise their dog if they have one and are not able to do this themselves.
It is often the little acts of kindness that have the most impact.

When will I be needed?
The current Government advice it is likely that this situation will be ongoing for several months. Please be prepared that your help may not be required immediately, but over the coming weeks and months it is likely that you will be needed at some point.

What if I don’t know my neighbours?
This is your chance to connect with them! Pop a note through their letterbox, exchange contact details and keep in touch. Just as you may be able to support them, they can support you if you have to self-isolate at any time. If there isn’t anyone in your immediate area that requires help, check noticeboards in your local area for anyone looking for help, or look on online forums such as Nextdoor and Western Isles Noticeboard.

I want to help but I want to protect myself too
Please follow the latest Scottish Government and NHS Scotland health advice at all times. We would ask that you make sensible decisions and minimise the risk to your own and others health at all times.
If you are unable to help at this time, remember that your help may be needed in the weeks to come.

I don’t know anyone older?
It is not just elderly people who can feel lonely and isolated. Check on all neighbours who may need help, or who are having to self-isolate. There will be neighbours around you who are living on their own and may not have a network of friends to call on. If you are having to self-isolate and have no one to help you, it doesn’t matter what age you are.

I want to do more than just help neighbours?

We understand that many people would like to do much more. While this situation develops rapidly other opportunities will emerge where there is a clear need for volunteers. We will be updating this page and our website continually and highlighting where there is a need for help. It is also important to remember that to minimize exposure and spread people should limit travel, therefore helping in your immediate neighbourhood is a fantastic way to make a difference.

How can I use social media?

Firstly, please share this information far and wide with anyone who may be thinking about volunteering or helping out during the current situation.

There are a number of local groups which have been set up to try and coordinate those willing to help out and match them with people who may need a bit of extra support.
So far we are aware of the following groups:

• Local community council facebook pages
• Volunteer Centre Western Isles Facebook local area pages
• Nextdoor.co.uk
There are more groups and pages being set up all the time so please keep an eye out for other pages. We will try keep this page updated with new groups as best we can.

What if I find out someone needs help?

In the first instance ask, “What can I do to help?” There may be a need which you can help with directly for example phoning a utility company on someone’s behalf, contacting a local foodbank, or doing a delivery for them.

If you have concerns for someone’s welfare please refer to the information below:

In an emergency:
If the crisis is life threatening, call 999.
If you are worried about someone who is ill, call NHS 24 on 111.

Urgent social care or someone at risk of harm
If someone needs urgent social care or you think an adult or child needs protection contact your local Social Work team.

In the evening and at weekends or public holidays, you can call Emergency Social Work, free of charge from a landline.

What other activities can I do?
If you are unable to help an individual directly, there are other things you could do to help out in the local community, for example:
• Litter picking – take a bin bag and some gloves on a walk and pick up litter while you go.
• Encourage others to stay active with online exercise classes which can be done form home.
• Revive the lost art of letter writing – send a message to someone who lives a bit further away, and even include a nice photo.
• Microvolunteering – have a look at this list of informal volunteering opportunities (N.B some of these may be currently unavailable.)
• Take an online course and learn something new

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