With public restrictions changing all over Canada, social distancing is an important practice to be mindful of — so what does volunteering look like in this time of transition?
The season of giving is almost upon us, and with so many still under financial strain, giving your time is a great way to say thanks and give back to your community if money isn’t an option.
Volunteering During COVID-19
Many charities are planning to reopen their doors to volunteers this fall and have implemented protocols to ensure everyone’s safety.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria, a facilitator of life-changing relationships that empower young people to reach their full potential, is one such charity that has adapted to allow volunteers to return to their in-person mentoring. All mentors must complete COVID-19 training that explains the charity’s process to mitigate and minimize risk. How a mentoring meeting occurs will depend on the phase of pandemic response, as declared by the BC Public Health Officer. If people are not allowed to meet with anyone outside of their immediate household, then the mentor and mentee will meet using remote/virtual communication methods.
When meeting in person, mentors and mentees should plan outdoor activities, as much as possible, and wear a mask when social distancing cannot be maintained. If the match activity must occur indoors, then both parties are required to wear a mask at all times, and if social distancing cannot be maintained, it is recommended that the mentor also wear a face shield. The charity also asks mentors to adapt their mentoring activities to eliminate the sharing of supplies and equipment. If this isn’t possible, the mentee and mentor are to wash or sanitize their hands before and after the activity and the equipment must be sanitized or quarantined between uses.
Other precautions such as not travelling by public transit, avoiding the use of public washrooms, not sharing food, and eliminating physical contact (no high-fives and hugs) are encouraged by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria.
Similarly, other charities are also reviewing and adapting rules for the continued safety of their volunteers.
For those who prefer to stay at home and minimize risk, virtual volunteering is still very much in demand! Many charities are looking for volunteer teachers and mentors who can spend time in virtual meetings and workshops offering their services. For example, Matthew House, a charity that acts as a safe house and works to find stable living and working conditions for refugees coming to Toronto, is currently holding online English Second Language classes for their residents.
Regardless of whether it’s in-person or from home, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities opening up this season and if you have time on your hands, don’t be afraid to give it! It’s the perfect time of year to get involved and give back, and charities are working hard to accommodate volunteers and keep them safe during this time.
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