Keeping the Spirit of Volunteering Alive

Syston and District Volunteer Centre, far from dormant over the past three months of ‘lockdown’, is now actively planning to meet future needs of the lonely and isolated within our local community.

Taking full advantage of enforced closure, with staff working from home or on furlough, the office has undergone a major internal makeover. As the picture shows, staff now have much more working space and the visitor experience will be much more comfortable, friendly and welcoming. The Centre is grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for a grant of £24,000 which has enabled the work to be completed.
Individual support services to those in need are being successfully sustained throughout the whole period. Sincere thanks are due to all those volunteers whose dedication and commitment have enabled us to continue our operations – both in transport and other personal support services.

However, until the requirements of social distancing are relaxed and venues are once again operative, Group trips and excursions have been – and will unfortunately remain – suspended.

Looking ahead, it is now clear that, as Covid-19 restrictions are eased, the Centre will face an immediate increase in demand – particularly for transport services. At the same time as the NHS turns attention to tackling the backlog of outpatient appointments, individuals will also seek to rapidly re-establish contact with families and friends and begin, once again, to manage their own shopping and social contacts held in abeyance for so long. To maintain any sense of credibility, it is vital that the Centre should be in a position to provide a positive response.

Trustee Board Chairman, Paul Lomas, says: “Unfortunately, at this critical time we will lose the support of those volunteers who will be returning to work at the end of their furlough arrangements. As a result, we anticipate a serious struggle to find enough volunteers to meet this surge in demand. We are therefore appealing to all those who, perhaps for the first time, have been volunteering over the past few months, to seriously consider sustaining their support in the months ahead. While volunteer drivers remain our primary concern, through the Centre we need to respond to a wide range of requests for additional assistance and support – shopping, befriending, gardening, DIY are all in demand. Our hard-pressed staff could also use some in-house support with their office duties.
If you are able to lend a few hours per week, at times to suit yourself, to offer voluntary support to those in need – whatever your skills, talents or interests – please contact the Centre Manager, Andy Shelton (0116 260 7888) to arrange a discussion on how best you might serve.
In the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis we will undoubtedly identify a whole new range of challenges created by months of enforced isolation. Let us join together to sustain this new-found enthusiasm for the mutually rewarding practice of voluntary community service. Let the Centre harness the range of talents which have been released during these difficult past months to ensure that any potentially lasting damage to those in need is minimised.”