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Pandemic Volunteering Stories – Mandy, Digital Inclusion Champion with the Jo Cox Foundation

Why did you take on this volunteer project?

In August 2019 I started volunteering for Age UK and Royal Voluntary Service simultaneously. I worked in both fundraising and digital inclusion for Age UK and signed up for befriending services with Royal Voluntary Service (RVS). Once face to face sessions were suspended in March 2020, I became more active for RVS and eventually became a member of a local committee, taking over services from the Batley Office.  But I missed the interaction with people during my Digital Champion sessions. So RVS put me in contact with More In Common Batley and Spen to join their new Digital Inclusion project.

What do you do in your Volunteer role?

I provide remote (over the phone) digital support, 5 ladies have been referred to me so far. Jo Cox House has kindly loaned these ladies a tablet. As I have been supplied with the same model, I can step by step explain how to use the tablets. I start off with teaching them about basic functions, such as switching on/off, display settings. Then I progress to individual requests/needs. Such as installing specific apps and help with online shopping. I especially enjoy teaching them about apps that allow contact with their family, such as Skype, Zoom and Social Media. I have taught them all how to use the camera and share photos with friends and family.  It’s great that they have now all grown in confidence, I give them some homework and they can give me a ring if they have any issues. I am now ready for some more referrals!

What have you found rewarding or memorable about your experience?

I suffer from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), I have worked for many years as either a secretary or Personal Assistant, basically organizing lives. In 2012 I was forced to give up working. Becoming ill and ultimately ‘unemployable’ has scarred me mentally.  I felt useless and very sorry for myself. But volunteering and this role especially has given me a purpose. I get to help people and use my brains.  

During covid it has been heartbreaking that people are alone and have not been able to see family. I am happy that technology exist that helps people connect with loved ones. My mother is in the Netherlands, so I can relate. To bring people together is very special.

Find out more

This is one of a range of Digital Inclusion projects run by the third sector in Kirklees to support people with digital access. You can find out more about the Jo Cox Foundation here: https://www.jocoxfoundation.org/

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Covid-Safe Volunteering

If you are volunteering in lockdown, please make sure that you are staying safe and are up-to-date with the current rules and guidance.

From 29th March, you should continue to volunteer from home where possible unless you cannot reasonably do so. You can leave home to volunteer if you are not required to isolate for any reason. Please make sure that you are following the guidelines to stay safe.

From 12th April, we move to Step 2 of the Government's lockdown easing roadmap.  This is when charity shops, libraries, and community centres can reopen, and cafes can serve people outside, which will mean that more people will be volunteering outside their homes and we may start to get more new volunteering opportunities.

If you are looking for a volunteering role, please visit our I Want To Volunteer page.

Find out more about the lockdown rules for volunteering