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A little bit of time to make someone smile

Carolyn Milburn, Marketing & Communications lead at our partner Moving On Tyne and Wear shares with us her experiencing of volunteering with VODA…

I joined MOTW in July of last year, and soon learnt about their fantastic charity partner VODA who provide support, advice and training to volunteers and voluntary and community groups operating in North Tyneside. They work tirelessly to support people in their community, and throughout the coronavirus pandemic they’ve been thinking of ways to encourage people to keep volunteering by offering activities that can be completed at home.

I’ve always volunteered, and was keen to give this a go, so I signed up!

There was no pressure, no unrealistic expectations and everything was organised brilliantly. The first initiative I signed up for was to be a Digital Champion, where I help people who need support using their computer, tablet or smartphone.  This can range from helping someone to order their weekly food shopping, to setting up zoom so they can chat to their friends and family, or even to help them login and navigate their benefits system. All of these activities are vital, now more than ever, as more and more services and social activities moving online. I’ve really enjoyed helping out in this way, it’s good to know I’m making a positive difference, supporting someone to make their lives a bit easier and doing my bit to help reduce the digital divide that has grown ever more apparent throughout the pandemic.

They also offer more creative tasks, and I signed up to support their Good Neighbour initiative where I was sent a card making pack through the post. These cards will be distributed to VODA’s beneficiaries with a handwritten personal note inside to let them know they’re thought of and not alone. My children and I spent a lovely afternoon making handmade cards from the supplies provided and VODA even gave me a large pre-paid envelope so I can get the cards back to them easily and at no cost to myself. I’ll definitely be looking out for more activities like this!4 year old child holding the greeting cards he has made and smiling

When volunteering is broken down into more manageable ‘chunks’ it is a lot easier to commit to, and I know I won’t ever stop volunteering where I can. It’s a great feeling knowing you have helped someone and that you’re making a difference. But also, it’s a chance for me to learn new skills. By being a Digital Champion I am learning new systems and enhancing my knowledge all whilst meeting some amazing people, and by signing up to creative activities and getting my family involved I’m teaching them the importance of giving back to the community and to think of others.

If you live in the North Tyneside area, and would like to learn more about how you can get involved you can search for volunteering opportunities here.

 

First published on the Moving On Tyne and Wear website 23 February 2021.