We know what a positive impact volunteers make on the lives of others, but we talk much less about the impact the act of volunteering can have on health and wellbeing. Since the Covid crisis many have experienced volunteering for the first time. This has enabled organisations to upscale their support and new groups to form, but it’s also given volunteers the chance to make leaving the house more purposeful and provided the opportunity to feel like we can each make a contribution in the face of a seemingly overwhelming challenge.
Our experience of Christmas is going to be radically different this year. The perennial problems of acute loneliness, financial worries and pressures on our mental health, at a time when there is a social expectation to be enjoying yourself, can weigh heavy. If we add to that the complication of social distancing measure, reduced access to support services and job insecurity, it becomes clear that creating innovative ways to support each other when we can’t come together through the usual routes is essential.
I’ve already heard about some fantastic ways that groups are adapting to current circumstances – in Witney, the organisers of an annual Christmas lunch for older residents are preparing special Christmas hampers. Others are self-organising on social media to send letters to care home residents. What’s clear from the enthusiasm around these ideas is that it isn’t just the recipient that benefits – those writing the letters or packing the hampers or donating an item are all taking part in a collective endeavour that provides us with a sense of connection that is at the heart of human experience.
Through OCVA you can add Christmas volunteering opportunities or register your interest as a volunteer and we will help to match you. Let’s work together to ensure that across Oxfordshire we find ways to connect this Christmas.