Volunteers' Week 2020: Spotlight On

The Guardian reported on the 26th May that “UK volunteering soars during coronavirus crisis” – that recent research suggests 10m have helped in their community and most plan to continue.

At Seashell, this year for volunteers’ week, we wish to put a spotlight on our volunteers & say thank you for how they have helped Seashell through this unique period of time and the challenges we faced.

Seashell has continued to care for and educate, complex needs residents and student’s onsite through the crises as the provision is critical and essential to those children and young people and their development. One of the necessary steps Seashell took in response to COVID-19 was to put measures in place to protect and shield residents and students. This meant that volunteers, visitors and non-essential front line staff were not allowed to be onsite as part of those safety measures.

Our volunteers responded with kindness, gratitude and love, expressing their heartfelt best wishes for Seashell staff who were working through COVID-19, sending positive messages, clapping for carers.

One of our volunteers, Jo Gendle, was contacted to ask if she would be willing to help staff create films and video for a new ‘YouTube’ channel as Seashell’s therapy team were engaging with a new medium to keep connected and resource families with information, insight and knowledge. Jo has been a great help with this and has also supported the filming for our CADS sessions - thank you Jo, we really appreciate you.

Volunteers were contacted to ask whether they were able to do some fundraising and take on the 2.6 challenge which either took place on the 26th of April, which was the planned date for the London Marathon this is an event where charities historically benefited from individuals fundraising for them through charitable giving.

Amazingly, our volunteers raised between them over £12,000 and that is simply outstanding, especially as Seashell was facing a shortfall in projected income through planned fundraising events being cancelled. A challenge many charities are facing.

Some stories that came from this were:

  • Ben Sharrock: Ben did a running challenge (running 260km in 3 weeks) he also raised some cash from selling old books to his neighbours.
  • Katie Mei: Katie cycled 260km.
  • Kirsty Dickson: Ran 26 miles over 7 days.
  • Hayley Showman: Encouraged family members to do various sports challenges over a 7 day period.
  • Joyce and Hayden: Walked 2.6 miles a day for 26 days
  • James B: Made cakes & sold them to his family
  • Shona, who is only going through recruitment to be a volunteer: Bounced on trampoline for 26 minutes nonstop.

Existing volunteers and a whole new volunteer workforce from communities have been engaged with, people are making face masks for our staff to travel on public transport, again demonstrating the amazing generosity people have to help and make a difference.

The pandemic has dramatically changed how people volunteer, this will continue to change as we come out of lockdown.

This year during National Volunteers Week, we know at Seashell just how valuable and valued our volunteers are and would like to say ‘Thank You’ your contribution, time and energy, it really has made a difference and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Fundraising Manager, Wendy Bray, has added: It meant so much to us all that our volunteer colleagues supported the 2.6 challenge with such passion, enthusiasm and generosity.

They understand so well what we are trying to achieve at Seashell and that was obvious from the way they embraced this. I know all our families, children, young people and paid colleagues were overwhelmed by the support and loved watching updates of the very creative ideas.

Thank you to everyone, it is a privilege to have you as part of our team”