Taking heart from the community response

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Volunteering Waikato’s Heather Moore talks about Covid-19 lockdown and the future


What have your main challenges been?

Just before lockdown we put our team of volunteers on leave to minimise the number of people in the building, and therefore minimise risk. A few days later we were all working from home. Whilst we are working from home and delivering our services effectively, we are a close team and we miss the social aspect of working together.

The speed at which lockdown happened was a bit of a challenge in that we needed to be very agile and make many decisions quickly. We were very grateful that we had made the decision to move to Office 365 last year, but still needed a little tech help to get us ready to work remotely.

What have your successes been?

During the past couple of months we have seen a significant increase in the number of people putting their hands up to volunteer. Our website has been very active, and it has been great to see many businesses encouraging their staff to volunteer while they were not able to return to work. We’ve also been upskilling during this time in a variety of ways – we have needed to learn more about platforms such as Zoom and how this can best be used, but we have also been attending a range of webinars relevant to our work in these times.

What difference has moving to Level 2 made for you?

We are still working from home at this stage, so on a work front, very little has changed for us with the move to Level 2. Many of the organisations that we support are returning to work, so this has seen an increase in the number of volunteering opportunities being listed on our website.

What (if any) long-term changes do you see yourself making to the way your business operates?

One thing that we have realised is that if we hold a workshop or a network meeting via Zoom, we can be far more inclusive. We work with organisations right around the Waikato Region and many are not able to attend our functions due to distance. Our recent online network meeting was attended by lots of people who would not normally attend. Although meeting in person is important, we may alternate physical and online meetings, and training workshops.

We also travel around the region frequently, but see that some of this travel could be reduced, and online meetings increased. This would save travel time, and fuel costs, and reduce our footprint.

Final word?

We have been heartened to see the response of our communities during this time. So many people have come forward to volunteer, to give their time to help others during this unprecedented time.  We acknowledge and thank them all.

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