This year has been a really difficult year for everyone, including volunteering groups. We asked Co-Presidents of Project Play, Olivia and Safiya, to tell us a little bit more about what they have been up to in a far from normal first term.
What does your group normally do?
Usually at Project Play, we would run 4 sessions a week in the Royal London Playspace for the children and teens on the paediatric wards. These often involve playing games and doing arts and crafts. Unfortunately due to Covid-19, we cannot go into the hospital and gather the children together for these boredom-busting sessions, so we have adapted our activity to still give the children and teens something fun to do each week.
What have you done to adapt your normal activity?
We came up with the idea of producing craft kits for the children and teens in the hospital, made on a bi-weekly basis by our volunteers. As well as coming up with a fun crafty project for children to make, volunteers film tutorial videos and pack all the supplies needed. We hope through this scheme, children in hospital can continue to enjoy some form of interaction with our volunteers.
How have you kept people engaged with your group with the restrictions in place?
It has been difficult to keep all of our volunteers engaged, but we have tried to be as flexible as possible so that everyone can get involved. For example, we welcome volunteers currently outside the UK to continue to get involved, whether this be through coming up with crafty ideas or filming tutorials. We recently hosted a ‘Project Play’ themed quiz night on Zoom which was a great way of connecting old and new volunteers!
What has worked well?
We have found that ensuring we stay up to date with government guidelines and communicating these to volunteers in a timely manner means we can adapt our plans appropriately. For example, after London moved into tighter restrictions, we were no longer able to have volunteers meet inside to produce the kits. By making sure this was clear to all, we were able to overcome this hurdle and continue to work in a COVID-secure manner! We regularly update our social media pages to show the volunteers and wider community the impact that we are having despite being unable to run our normal sessions.
Any advice for groups adapting their activity?
Keep the essence of your activity the same and work with your support staff to come up with a great alternative, so that volunteering can continue throughout this strange period! Although adapting your usual activity may be difficult and feel very different to what you usually do, it really is worth it both for your volunteers and to serve your community.