‘Virtual volunteering is not only helping people in our community, it’s helped me too’

Posted on the 6th June 2021

I was out of work and decided to apply for both paid and voluntary roles. I was then invited in for a chat at my local Leonard Cheshire service Hill House in Sandbach.

Hill House is recognised as a hub where new assistive technology is trialled to transform the care experience. I went for my initial interview in 2012 and it was suggested that I volunteer with Mark, to provide additional support and friendship. Until the start of the pandemic, this has been my main role.

I’m one of 4,000 people who volunteered with Leonard Cheshire in the last year, and virtual activity has been vital to keep people connected.

In the years I’ve known Mark, we’ve built up a real bond, but lockdown obviously made face-to-face meetings impossible, so other methods of support were required. Initially, this was through weekly letters, then video chats on WhatsApp.

Dan and Mark

Dan and Mark

During the pandemic, the focus was about maintaining connection. Through technology, I was engaging with residents across three services in the North West: Hill House, The Orchard, and Eden Square.

Zoom has obviously been hugely beneficial, and I soon learned how technology could provide further inspiration for my volunteering through a virtual DJ computer programme. I love learning new skills and I have now delivered karaoke sessions for multiple Leonard Cheshire Services.

I also hosted a quiz through Zoom at Hill House in Sandbach and The Orchard in Liverpool. I did this by designing a PowerPoint presentation after playing around with the programme. I also managed to hone my skills by attending an intermediate PowerPoint course run by Leonard Cheshire’s digital inclusion team. This has boosted my confidence further.

How volunteering virtually has helped me

Virtual volunteering is not only helping Leonard Cheshire and the people in our community, it’s helped me too. It’s about self-worth, knowing you’re making a difference although you’re not there in person.

It gives people a connection out of the home without it being a loved one or a family member. Although you do have to remain professional, a natural bond develops.

I hope Volunteers’ Week can inspire people to investigate this type of opportunity.

To find out more about volunteering for Leonard Cheshire, see our ‘be a volunteer’ page.

Dan Burges

Volunteer, Leonard Cheshire

Dan is from Middlewich, Cheshire. Throughout the pandemic Dan has been volunteering virtually with Leonard Cheshire.

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