Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are some ideas on how to be a useful and helpful volunteer by self-organizing and mobilizing during COVID-19. 

• Are there local mutual aid groups taking action in your community? How can donors support and strengthen volunteer efforts during this time? 

• Read more on where to find opportunities to give back. 

It’s easy to feel a little directionless in a time like this. Some of us may be feeling crowded with information overload on COVID-19, while also casting about for ways to help others as we sit at home with too much time on our hands. Here are some simple ways to get plugged into the inspiring community response to COVID-19: be it donating from your sofa, volunteering safely or simply reaching out to give support.

Online groups have mobilised across the UK to bring neighbours together and provide assistance to isolated people. Under the umbrella organisation Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group, local groups are self-organising to carry out leafleting, shopping and directing people to support services.

Many mutual aid groups are going ‘hyper-local’, which is great for being close to those who are most in need and helping to bring our neighbourhoods together in spirit. Grassroots approaches like this will benefit from being well-coordinated to make sure they aren’t duplicating efforts and that safety is always a consideration.

Many of these roles have been taken up by volunteers, who are vetting volunteers to make sure they have the necessary police (DBS) checks, finding available training and professional advice from others who are qualified in safeguarding the young and vulnerable and making sure people’s personal data is protected. Ward-level WhatsApp groups are also keeping in touch to gather so-called ‘road leads’ – finding similar problems in different parts of a wider area and working together to find the best answers to common challenges.

Existing charities can also form part of a ‘whole of society’ response. Charities have invaluable knowledge about delivering services, working with vulnerable people, sensitive data handling and safeguarding the vulnerable.

Read the full article about how to help during COVID-19 by Cleodie Rickard and Daniel Ferrell-Schweppenstedde at Charities Aid Foundation.