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Amid these strange and uncertain times, you might be asking ‘what can I do to help?’, and although face-to-face volunteering has stopped for the time being, there are still lots of volunteering opportunities that you can get involved with to help local communities and those around the world, and better still, you can do all this from the comfort and safety of your sofa! You can give as much or as little time as you want, and you can log your virtual volunteering hours in your volunteer profile.

Most of us would agree that giving to others makes us feel really good and we can all gain a sense of purpose from even just a small gesture. There are lots of vulnerable people in our communities at the moment that will be affected by COVID-19 and we know that you’ll be keen to help! Re-Engage are looking for ‘call companions’ to make regular phone calls to lonely and isolated people to provide a lifeline of friendship – this regular chat and companionship offers these people a vital link to the outside world. We know not everyone likes to chat over the phone, so don’t worry, you can also write letters to local care homes which can help reduce loneliness at this uncertain time – just email volunteering@chester.ac.uk for a contact to write to. You can also help vulnerable people by joining a group of local volunteers through COVID-19 Mutual Aid to support local communities in organising mutual aid, providing resources and connecting people to their nearest groups and willing volunteers.

With everything going on in the world and with news of the COVID-19 pandemic dominating our news feeds, it’s sometimes hard to remember that there are other charities and organisations that still need our support. Post Pals is a charity that aims to ‘Put a smile on a sick child’s face’ by asking its volunteers to send cards, letters, emails or a little gift to seriously ill children and their siblings across the UK. Or, if you’re feeling creative, you could have a go at making someone a syringe driver bag – the NHS and several hospices give out hand-made bags to patients receiving constant pain medication who need to carry syringe drivers – the bags mean that these patients can carry them around discreetly and carry on with their normal day-to-day activities.

You can also get involved with other projects all over the world, and if you fancy yourself as the next David Attenborough, these might be for you! Evolutionary-ecological drivers that have generated the behavioural diversity in chimpanzee populations are still widely unknown. By reviewing footage of chimpanzees you can help anthropologists to identify their behaviours, relationships and environment! Instant Wild are also looking for volunteers to take part in vital conservation work – bringing you live images and videos from amazing locations all around the world for you to identify.

You can check out the new virtual volunteering page on the Volunteering website for more information about all of the fantastic volunteering opportunities available to you!

The Volunteering website www.volunteering.chester.ac.uk is still functional and can be used to continue to log your volunteer hours. The Volunteering team are working with their charity partners to ensure that activities listed on their website are up to date and reflect the current social distancing guidelines.

The team will also be sharing lots of content over the coming weeks via their social media channels, so follow their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @UoCVolunteering to keep in touch.

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