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New year, new ways to volunteer

Take a big deep breath out. 2020 has turned its final page and a new year is upon us.

New year, new ways to volunteer

If one thing is for certain, no Australian has been untouched by the global pandemic of 2020. And while we may be inclined to hold on to the stress of it all, the truth is, this year has brought about a hugely positive individual and communal response from people all over the country.

It is evident that we want to look after each other. We have witnessed social connectedness and people have a desire more than ever to build strong local communities.

In fact, recent research by SEEK Volunteer shows that 58% of people are more motivated to volunteer. If you’re one of those people, 2021 is presenting many brilliant opportunities to help rebuild lives and support the wellbeing of people who were especially impacted by the pandemic.

In particular, services helping young people, families and those with mental ill health could really benefit from volunteer support right now.

Young People

In 2020, school closures meant most children were forced to adapt to home schooling. Recent research indicates that educational outcomes can decline by up to 50% for students learning at home compared to in the classroom. Students who are already facing educational disadvantage, such as those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds or those with higher learning needs, are more likely to be negatively impacted by remote learning.

How you can volunteer to help young people

  • Assisting with children’s education can help students regain confidence. Volunteering as a Reading Buddy or Youth Mentor are good options.
  • Look for opportunities that help fill children with confidence outside the classroom, so they thrive inside the classroom. Roles such as being an Event Volunteer on a Holiday Program can be enjoyable for both you and the children you’re helping.
  • Reach out to organisations like Save the Children or The Smith Family and ask how you can support their causes directly.

View all current volunteering opportunities that can help young people here.

Family Services

The need to socially isolate has meant victims of domestic and family violence have been at greater risk in their homes. As unemployment and financial stress of households increase, so does the need for families to access important support services.

How you can volunteer to help families in need

  • Become an In-Home Parent Support Volunteer for parents managing the challenges of having newborn babies.
  • During periods of lockdown, telephone and online chat support were utilised by affected families more than ever before. Volunteering as a Telephone Crisis Support Worker can help fill this continued demand for remote connection and emotional support.
  • Consider offering support specifically to migrant families who may be disadvantaged due to language, cultural and financial barriers.

View all current volunteering opportunities that can help families here.

Mental Health

It has been widely reported that COVID-19 is causing detrimental impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of society. A global study has already found that since the outbreak, 67 per cent of people have increased levels of stress, 57 per cent have greater anxiety, 53 per cent feel sadness day to day and 42 per cent report overall mental health has declined.

How you can volunteer to help people suffering ill mental health

  • Organisations such as LifeLine, Beyond Blue and SANE Australia offer volunteers training to equip them to support people with mental ill health as a Telephone Crisis Support Worker.
  • Consider supporting a more specific group of people who may ordinarily be less recognised in the mental health crisis or who you may personally relate to such as Mentoring Men.

While the new year beckons resolutions, hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families, volunteering and helping others in worse-off situations can offer an immense sense of fulfilment and gratitude for the things we have. Being of service to others impacted by the pandemic can offer volunteers new insights, a sense of purpose and meaning, and feel-good connections that our community especially needs in 2021.