Staff Volunteering and Outreach (SVO)
As we begin to look ahead it is worth reflecting on the last few months. Last academic year was the best ever for Staff Volunteering – most volunteers, most hours and greatest impact – amazing.
Then in March came Covid-19, lockdown and the whole world changed. But what didn’t change was the spirit, selflessness and commitment of our staff to support our communities. Of course, things were different but not only did people adapt, they positively flourished! All that happened was we talked to our neighbours, we shopped for the vulnerable, set up Facebook Mutual Aid groups, ran online tutoring and fitness classes, used skills and ingenuity to make face masks and PPE, volunteered in huge numbers as NHS Responders and the Ambulance Service, volunteered to work through the night to keep the University Incident Control Centre open 24 hours a day to support key workers. Thank you to you all - simply breathtaking.
As I learn more about what our staff and students have done during this crisis it makes me so proud. It's clear we will recover and we will return to the University, stronger and more resilient, more embedded in our communities and even more empathetic to the community that we are all part of. The coming months, and years, will be hard in terms of the financial pressures on the University and the impact of Covid-19 in all of our areas but we want to be clear on what we are going to do once we are back.
- WE WILL CONSULT AND LISTEN TO OUR PARTNERS. The world has changed and the voluntary sector is no different – their needs have changed and we need to understand what they need and what we can do to support that
- WE MUST BE INNOVATIVE. We need to reimagine what we do in community engagement in its widest sense, not just through volunteering, but in everything we do
- WE WILL BUILD ON THE OVERWHELMING OUTPOURING OF COMMUNITY SPIRIT. Many people have realised what volunteering is and what it does for them and their communities – we must build on that
- WE WILL OFFER TEAM CHALLENGES. Initially they are unlikely to be offered on the same scale as previously, due to social distancing issues, BUT we will nevertheless seek to identify those most easily adapted to socially distanced work, e.g. Beach Cleans, where volunteers can access the site safely and those that do not require group transport, i.e. walkable in Durham
- WE WILL ENCOURAGE STAFF TO CONTINUE INDIVIDUAL VOLUNTEERING. It must, of course be risk assessed and safe but the world still needs School Governors, Blood Donors, Trustees, Mountain Rescue and myriad other roles
- WE WILL CONTINUE TO VALUE VOLUNTEERING AS VITAL TO SUPPORT YOUR WELLBEING. More than ever the need to address our wellbeing and mental health is vital
- WE WILL BUILD ON REMOTE & DIGITAL VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES. This is a crucial growth area and something that will make us stronger for future crises like Covid-19
Like everyone else, our team will be operating with limited budget and less staff but our commitment to you is that if you want to volunteer we will do our very best to make that happen for you, safely and effectively.
The Staff Volunteering and Outreach (SVO) team provides an opportunity for Durham University staff to engage with a range of local community organisations that benefit from working in partnership with the University.
Durham University operates an employer supported volunteering scheme, enabling University staff members to volunteer for up to 5 days per year during work-time. Opportunities range from individual placements utilising an individual's professional experience, to departmental team challenges involving practical tasks. Through the following pages you can find out more about the Staff Volunteering scheme and how you can get involved.
As a Community Partner, the SVO team can provide community groups, organisations and charities and with teams of staff volunteers or individuals to help you out on a short-term and occasionally longer-term basis. To find out how you can work with us, contact the team on the email address or phone number given below.