Versatile volunteers continue to make a difference

A person inspecting the leaves of a shrub.

Take a moment to reflect on the wonderful work of our volunteers, and how they too have been affected by the changes brought about by COVID-19, during National Volunteer Week from 18 to 24 May.

We engage more than 1000 volunteers in different roles and programs across the City of Melbourne. For volunteers working in face-to-face roles, or on major events, their work disappeared overnight when social distancing restrictions were announced in mid-March.

With our volunteers ranging in age from 17 through to 89, this meant missing out on vital work experience, treasured social connections and a sense of belonging. We too have missed their wide-ranging contributions, their unique skills, strengths, experiences, passion and vibrancy.

While a number of volunteer roles have been completely suspended during this time, some could be performed remotely, and we have worked hard to help all our volunteers remain connected.

Programs that have been adapted in response to the new conditions include:

1. Our Gardens for Wildlife program, where volunteers help local residents choose plants that will thrive and attract native wildlife, has continued with the help of video conferencing and online resources.

2. Tourism volunteers have been receiving regular online product knowledge briefings and monthly newsletters to help keep them up-to-date and connected.

3. Red Cross redeployment is available for volunteers who are able to drive patient transport vehicles and assist with tele-outreach, to help meet the increased demand for support.

Gardens for Wildlife volunteer Diana Wolfe recently conducted a garden assessment with a local resident via Zoom.

‘I think it’s one way that people in the city can reconnect with nature in a really small but very significant and profound way. It’s really been a lifesaver for me. Mentally and physically it’s given me a whole new joy, not just in gardening, but also in life,’ said Diana.

‘Being able to share these experiences, little things like: “what critters have you seen in your garden?” you know, it’s quite thrilling enjoying it for yourself, but it’s a whole other thing sharing it with people who are as passionate as you are,’ she said.

The City of Melbourne is not currently recruiting new volunteers. If you are interested in supporting the community during this time, view this list of organisations accepting volunteers.

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