The Worcestershire charity, Onside, is encouraging people to sign up as volunteers to support their project to overcome loneliness and isolation. The PLUS project (PLUS stands for People Like US) centres around mentoring and supporting someone to build their confidence, enabling individuals to connect with others and to become more active and engaged in their communities.
Volunteers on the PLUS project support people with an hour or two each week or fortnight. The support they give might include mentoring and coaching to build confidence, sourcing information about local clubs and opportunities and possibly accompanying individuals to activities so that they gain confidence to attend independently. The aim is for this one-to-one support to last no longer than six months.
Volunteers are ordinary people of all ages and backgrounds who just need to be good listeners and have some time to give; it is a great way of getting to know a person while making a difference to local people’s lives. Currently much of the support is on the telephone building relationships and confidence, so that when lockdown lifts the people they help feel empowered to start connecting again.
Free training (currently over Zoom) is given to carry out the role and Onside have dedicated volunteer coordinators on the PLUS team to help volunteers with all aspects of their role. Volunteers also meet up (currently virtually) to share ideas and to encourage each other; so volunteering with Onside is a great way to meet other likeminded people in your area too.
Onside Volunteer Manager, Claire Watkins, said, “Our volunteers give their time, their passion and enthusiasm, this is a great time to volunteer in this exciting role. This particular role is very worthwhile and extremely rewarding. At present we are providing support over the phone, but we will start to support people back out in their communities as soon as we are able.”