Thinking of volunteering but not sure where to begin or what charities are operating at this time? Here are the charities that need your help now.
You want to help but you're not sure what to do. You might feel inclined to check on elderly neighbours during this difficult time, it is not advisable. As well as being against government guidelines on cocooning, it can frighten people and cause unnecessary anxiety. During these strange times it's best to move through official and well-worn channels.
Things to know before you volunteer
While your eagerness is to be applauded and encouraged, there are a few things to note before deciding to volunteer.
You need to be considerate of the other people in your household, particularly for any of the frontline volunteering roles. If you have a member in your household who is over 70, has a pre-existing condition, or cares for someone that fits into either category, ask whether you are putting them under undue stress or risk by volunteering.
Unhygienic volunteers are worse than no volunteers, especially when it comes to charities that encounter the elderly and infirm. While most charities will give you digital or training over the phone, you should know that gloves can make people less careful and clothes need to be washed daily, and preferably as soon as you come home.
Connect with Volunteer Ireland
Your first port of call should be Volunteer Ireland, which acts like Indeed for volunteer positions. They have a special category for Covid-19 volunteer positions. If you click here, it will take you to a very simple volunteering form. You enter your Eirecode and what kilometre radius you’d like to work within and then select times you are free, between morning, afternoon and evening, seven days a week.
If you would like to sign up specifically for Covid-19-related positions, click “Disaster/Emergency services” in the Activities section under “Helping Others.” Tasks include bringing chemo patients to and from the hospital for treatment, local charity positions and lots more. It’s a great place to start and very efficient.
This is also where you’ll find positions looking for frontline volunteers, such as working at a testing centre. Find out more here.
Help out with Alone
With everyone over 70 is meant to be cocooning, and as a result charities for the elderly and infirm are screaming out for volunteers, both for delivery and support positions. Loneliness amongst elderly people is understandably soaring during this time, and it can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
Services like ALONE are looking for practical volunteers to pick up groceries, medical prescriptions and fuel, and also telephone support volunteers. This requires phoning a list of elderly people to check in, see if they need anything and how they’re holding up, as well as simply being a friendly voice at the other end of the line every day. This can be done from home if you do not feel prepared to venture out. Find out more here.
Be a driver or cook with Meals on Wheels
While most Meals on Wheels services work with the HSE, there is no centralised body that oversees the daily meals to the elderly in the community. However, a quick Google of “Meals of Wheels” and your neighbourhood, city or surrounding area should bring up a local charity or two that does it.
They’re looking for people with cars to take on delivering the food, as well as prep people to help with the making of them.
Be on call for Ireland with the HSE
You’ve heard about the big recruitment drive the HSE has made to increase the amount of doctors and nurses in our hospitals. However, they’re also looking for non-medical staff to help with administrative and organisational positions, including running and operating the many Covid-19 testing and step-down sites around Ireland. Find out more here.
Get on the phone with Samaritans
One of Ireland’s oldest charities, Samaritans aren’t looking for Covid-19 only volunteers but they do mention on their site that the situation is updated daily. If you were thinking of volunteering for Samaritans, now is always a good time. Find out more here.
Patients in hospitals are still in need of blood and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service are still operating their clinics. They ask you not to attend if you have any of the symptoms related to Covid-19 and that you pre-book an appointment slot for upcoming clinics to ensure a smooth flow with as little human contact as possible. Anyone with this booking is exempt from the government-imposed travel restrictions for the journey. Find out more here.
Most of these charities, plus thousands more such as the Irish Cancer Society and ISPCA, have launched emergency fundraising appeals as they do not have the usual events during this time that would usual maintain the service. Most charities live hand-to-mouth, which means that they need support now, in order to still be operational during and after this crisis.
Consider putting aside the money you’d typically spend on coffee or meals out and donating it to a charity of your choice. They need us all at this moment in time, and we or one of our loved ones may need them sometime in the future.
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