THE pandemic might have eased but the pressure on not-for-profit groups has not, prompting the City of Greater Bendigo to offer new "reactivation" grants to help rebuild volunteer networks.
Many, like the Court Network's Loretta*, believe some volunteers will not return as conditions ease.
"Because of the nature of volunteering many volunteers are in that high risk group (for COVID-19)," she said.
The Loddon Mallee arm of the Court Network is considering applying for new council grants of up to $3000 to help community and sporting groups impacted by the pandemic.
The Court Network is a group of Victorian and Queensland volunteers who provide in-person support to up to 200,000 court users on what can often be the worst day of their lives.
Before the pandemic it was done in the court buildings themselves.
"That all stopped around about the 16th of March and we haven't been back to the courts since," Loretta said.
The Court Network is one of a number of Bendigo volunteer groups that has not closed entirely. About 500 of the group's Victorian and Queensland volunteers are currently manning a telephone support service available to all court users.
It has been a success but Loretta says many volunteers want to return to in-person work.
"They (the courts) have such a backlog," she said.
It is unclear exactly when volunteers will be able to return to the courts, and how many may do so.
Loddon Mallee's Court Network was already preparing to find more volunteers anyway, in preparation for the launch of new Bendigo law courts in coming years.
"The building is going to be five storeys high so it will be a bigger commitment for us," she said.
"But I've just had six young people go through our training so that will help a lot."
Volunteer groups across town are starting to lay the groundwork for a return to something resembling normal operations, Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre manager Helen Yorston said.
She expects many groups' plans will be ready to kick into gear in the new year as long as conditions remain on their current trajectory.
"We are finding it is very slow going at the moment. People are understandably very hesitant," she said.
For more information on the council's community group reactivation grants visit www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/Services/Community-and-Care/Community-grants
To access support through the Court Network call 1800 571 239. The telephone service is available to all court users.
* Court Network staff personnel do not disclose their last names to protect their privacy in their volunteering roles.