Volunteers from across the UK have shown brilliant willingness, commitment and flexibility to supporting community businesses, and local communities themselves, in light of the challenges and changes caused by Coronavirus. At Plunkett we have heard countless stories of volunteers stepping up to increased workloads, arranging creative solutions to new and unfamiliar situations, and generally going above and beyond by giving huge amounts of time and energy.
Where volunteers have had to take a break from their usual roles due to shielding there have been many examples of students or furloughed workers volunteering for the first time. These new recruits have had to learn how to do their roles quickly, whilst shielding volunteers have often taken on inventive new tasks from home. Creativity and innovation have been a defining features of lockdown volunteering, not only for finding solutions to navigating government guidelines, but also for keeping the local community engaged. For example, if you haven’t seen the videos from Palnackie Village Shop volunteer Eleanor, who cooks up a storm using just ingredients found in the village shop, then watch them here.
Committee members have had to be decisive when creating new procedures and contingency plans, and have worked tirelessly to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. It goes without saying that the efforts put into ensuring that community businesses are protected and preserved and that local residents are looked after over these worrying few months has been markedly related to the efforts that volunteers have made. This feeling of togetherness and heightened community spirit has spread beyond the areas local to community businesses. We have been engaging in conversations between volunteers from pub and shop groups on the weekly Zoom calls, reading experiences that have been shared in conversations on the Facebook groups, and noting comments from conversations via phone or email, and it is always hugely apparent that volunteer efforts have been critical not only for the sector, but the wellbeing of communities across the UK.
See the images and stories below for how volunteers have helped some of the groups that have received recent support, funded by The Co-op, from the Plunkett team and advisers.