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Team Oxford blog- Embracing the new normal and flourishing

February 25, 2021

This week OCVA’s Volunteer Co-ordinator Tariq Khandoker and Team Oxford Project Co-ordinator Hannah Mackie give an update on the opportunities for volunteering via Team Oxford.
Embracing the new normal and flourishing

Team Oxford is a partnership of incredible people, organisations and businesses working together in a joint commitment to achieve a more connected Oxford and increase social action across the City.

The Team Oxford partnership includes Aspire, Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action (OCVA), Oxford City Council, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Computer Consultants and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. The Team Oxford project is fully funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. Launched before Covid-19 changed our world, our mission remains the same but with the knowledge that those connections are needed now more than ever.

Many businesses and charities have responded and adapted during the last 12 months, finding new ways of helping their communities. Volunteering trends have seen significant changes and in many cases, these are set to last.

These include:

  • Fundraising has become even more critical to charities’ survival.
  • More opportunities than ever before to volunteer from home now that home working has become the new normal for many.
  • Food banks and neighbourhood mutual aid groups are a vital resource for communities and are often entirely run by volunteers.
  • Buddying volunteer schemes have become an essential source of social interaction and companionship for people who have been unable to access services such as lunch clubs and day centres in person.

In our current uncertain economic climate, with potentially tighter purse strings, volunteering is a fantastic way for businesses to continue to support charities in communities in Oxfordshire. Employer-Supported Volunteering, or ESV, typically constitutes a business offering its staff a number of paid days per year to undertake volunteering activities, either with a charity or local organisation the company has chosen to support, or for a cause of the employee’s choosing.

A one-off team building day to paint a wall or tidy up a garden is a great way of dipping your toe into the waters of corporate volunteering, BUT we think there are more ways of making a meaningful impact with our City’s charities and voluntary organisations: a flexible volunteering scheme via Team Oxford.

Volunteering could include tasks such as mentoring, delivering workshops, supporting charities to review their digital communications, providing specialist advice, or support for fundraising.

Project Coordinator Hannah Mackie explains

“We connect employees with exciting volunteering opportunities in Oxford City and as a fully funded service there is currently no cost to employers. When people first want to volunteer it can be tricky for them to know where to start, cue the Team Oxford Skills Audit! We use this to explore what skills an employee has, so we can match them to volunteering opportunities, exciting no? It’s a great way of learning more about colleagues’ skills and abilities and is a good tool for offering a voluntary organisation a menu of potential help. It’s completely confidential and takes about 10-minutes.

Here’s the interesting thinky bit: we’ve all got skills and abilities that could be of real benefit to organisations needing volunteers. Maybe you work in a professional capacity using skills that you could offer to volunteer with? For example, you might be a great communicator (hello fundraising), you might be a brilliant role model (hi there mentoring), perhaps you’re great with IT (spruce up a website), maybe you have a hobby or an interest that you could bring along with you. Amongst our brilliant volunteers we’ve got people who do barbering, gardening, repairing mobile phones, and good old chatting with a cuppa. There are endless possibilities!

 We make the most of these skills by matching them with organisations leading to successful and meaningful volunteering opportunities. So, if you’re a charity or voluntary organisation on the hunt for some extra help, drop me a line at hello@team-oxford.co.uk and let’s have a cuppa and a chat! “

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