Bendigo organisations have shared how they have adapted their volunteering programs during the coronavirus pandemic as part of an event to commemorate International Volunteer Managers Day.
Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre manager Helen Yorston hosted the virtual meeting, which heard from the Bendigo branch of the Stroke Association, Baptcare and Bendigo Community Health, among others.
"When the pandemic first impacted volunteering services, there was so much uncertainty," Ms Yorston said.
"As we slowly start to experience eased restrictions, our first steps are to encourage people to have their own COVID safe plan and assess their risk, when it comes to returning to volunteering."
The pandemic presented opportunities for organisations to think laterally about how they engage members of the community, with Baptcare's Home Start program one such example.
The program is traditionally a face-to-face voluntary home visiting service that offers practical support and mentoring to families with children under the age of five.
Trained volunteers are linked to families as part of the evidence-based program.
Baptcare has shifted their mode of delivery online, with great success.
"Baptcare's program is one example of an organisation that has moved online, while still providing opportunities for volunteers to engage with the community," Ms Yorston said.
While new volunteering opportunities arose because of the pandemic, Ms Yorston said it is crucial to engage with past and current volunteers as organisations start to reopen and return to normal.
"We know some people won't come back because they've adapted to life without volunteering and have enjoyed the break," Ms Yorston said.
"There is also a demographic of volunteers who might choose to stay away for health reasons."
On November 23, the BVRC will launch The Cycle of Life of Volunteers, as a way of reengaging volunteers.
"We need to recruit, support, train, induct and adapt all of our processes to suit the COVID environment," Ms Yorston said.
Volunteering doesn't have to be a week in, week out commitment, according to Ms Yorston.
"Young people, in particular those at university, can engage in short-term volunteering opportunities that may lead to contacts with a future employer," she said.
"We also know there are some people who have been made redundant through COVID-19 and they might be looking to upskill and volunteer.
"I'd like to encourage people to build up their self confidence, try something different and know there are a myriad of volunteer organisations for them to give their time to in Bendigo."
To learn more, visit bgovolunteers.org.au
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