“A Real Privilege” – The UoN Volunteers Helping Our Community

Written by on June 3, 2020

From delivering groceries to people in need and coordinating efforts that are supporting vulnerable people’s wellbeing, the University community has been busy volunteering during lockdown.

This week is National Volunteers’ Week 2020 and, although the fallout from the pandemic has curtailed any physical events, the nation will be celebrating the work of the army of people who give their free time to help others.

One of those is Library and Learning Service’s Environment Assistant John Chilton. John signed up to support homeless charity Hope Centre last year, but has not let lockdown stop this, spending two mornings each week delivering food parcels to people living in food poverty in Northampton.

He said: “It’s been a real privilege to do this and is a win-win solution for getting through some tough times. Firstly, I’m helping others who are in the most need. Secondly – something I’ve really enjoyed – I’m getting out of the house to talk with people, albeit from a safe social distance! I’ve had some really lovely comments from people and I always stop for a longer chat as it brightens their day and mine. It’s a real mood lifter for all; I can’t recommend a bit of volunteering enough.”

Another staff member who has been doing her bit for a good cause is Jagruti Patel, Human Resources Assistant. She is also a coordinator for Asha Deep, a county-wide charity set up to help get food and other wellbeing services and support to vulnerable or isolated members of the Asian community.

Her role has been to set up all of the services for Northampton, recruiting and training volunteers, processing referrals, managing fundraising initiatives and coordinating all of the food donations, planning deliveries upwards of 60 meals a week.

Psychology Lecturer Katere Pourseied is an expert who is passionate about helping people understand the complexity of their emotions and thoughts, their responses to stress and how to manage these and other positive psychology concepts in life-changing situations.

Outside of her lecturing duties, she also has a consultancy (Positive Psychology for Life) that provides organisation-wide workshops, including educational and community settings. Due to the pandemic, she has been offering free online sessions through her consultancy to those in self-isolation.

Psychology and Health student Samantha Hughes is in the final year of her degree and is also a qualified yoga instructor. She has been providing free, online yoga classes for people wanting to calm and destress the mind and body during lockdown, or maintain their physical and mental well-being.

Executive Officer Nick Allen was part of the original group of hundreds of thousands of altruists nationwide who answered the NHS’s original call for a ‘volunteer army’.

He sums up the general mood of how the pandemic might have switched us on to volunteering: “Just signing up to be a volunteer for the health service was hugely positive because it sent out a clear signal that a lot of people were on stand-by to support their local community”.

The University is also looking for volunteers to help Scrubs Up For Northants NHS – a voluntary group that supplies non-surgical scrubs to NHS staff in the county. Volunteer skills required are:

  • Ironing of material, supplied by UON (dyed material will need ironing before cutting)
  • Cutting skills in order to cut out scrub sets in sizes 3XL and 4XL, patterns will be provided
  • Sewing skills from beginner to intermediate (there are no advance techniques needed).

Those who want to help support Northamptonshire NHS staff should fill out the volunteer form to register their interest. For more details, email [email protected]


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