Why should you volunteer with Travel Hands?
Hi, my name is Courtney and I work in Operations and Administration for Travel Hands.
I often spend my time researching and assessing the current situation with volunteering in England, gathering data and ideas to share with my team that could help us get volunteers for Visually Impaired People (VIP).
VIP, around London specifically, require companions to assist them in their journeys – with a wide variation of trips including but not limited to: medical appointments, going shopping and games of bowling. However, we have struggled to successfully find volunteers willing to accompany the VIP in certain areas of London.
“What have we been doing in our attempt to find volunteers?” you may wonder…
We have been in contact with over 40 volunteering organisations based in London. The idea behind contacting volunteering organisations was that they could share their database of volunteers with us so that their existing volunteers could also reap benefits of assisting VIP in their simple yet fun journeys.
The volunteering organisations that were contacted include, but are not limited to:
- Voluntary Action
- Various volunteer centres
- Royal Voluntary Service
- Business Disability Forum
- “Run Together”
- Merton Connected
- England Athletics
- Loneliness Lab
- Lambeth Council
- Southwark Council
Out of all volunteering organisations listed, we were most successful with both Lambeth and Southwark council. Both councils advertised Travel Hands on their websites thus we had volunteer sign ups. Comparatively to all other volunteer organisations listed, where we are still awaiting their response/advertisement.
Similarly with charities, the idea behind contacting them was in hope of them sharing a network of volunteers that they may already have with us so that the volunteers could also assist VIP in their travel.
We have contacted:
- Blood Pressure UK
- Sport in Mind
- The Firefighters Charity
- Well Giving
- Realise Charity
Unfortunately, although they have all been contacted, there has been no replies from any of them.
Travel Hands are in urgent need of daytime volunteers, available in the mornings and afternoons, so I proposed an idea of reaching out to primary schools for advertisements in school newsletters. Why did I think this could be an effective idea? I brought forward this idea to reach parents and carers who may be unemployed or have spare time during school hours – doing something to help other individuals within their local community whilst having fun.
“Unemployment and mental health: Why both require action for our COVID-19 recovery” by The Health Foundation (2021) stated that “In January 2021, 43% of unemployed people had poor mental health. This was greater than for people in employment (27%) and for people who were on furlough (34%)”. Unemployed individuals could increase mental health with the walking and interactions they have on Travel Hands journeys. Whilst taking pride in being of help for other members of your community to doing journeys that may rekindle old interests and hopefully making new friends.
A random selection of primary schools within the London boroughs of Harrow, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets were called to follow up our request of advertisements in their school newsletter and around premises visible to parents/carers. Unfortunately for us, schools have stated that they are only engaging with organisations that are beneficial to the education/wellbeing of their students – declining our request of advertisement for matching visually impaired people with volunteers within the local area of their schools.
Posts on Indeed
We have paid to advertise volunteering opportunities on Indeed.com to expand our recruitment in a way that has not been done before. Posting Travel Hands opportunities on Indeed has proved successful with there being 23 volunteer sign ups in the last 3 months.
Websites for volunteering job opportunities
We have posted Travel Hands volunteering opportunities on websites such as BeCollective and Do-It in the hope of targeting a demographic of people who may be looking for varied ways to fill their time. Unfortunately, there have not been many recent sign-ups through these platforms.
We, at Travel Hands, have had the most luck with voluntary participation from senior citizen volunteers – with one of our elderly volunteers registering his interest for an astonishing 10 journeys in the last 12 weeks!
We have contacted:
- Friends of the Elderly
- St Martins Community Centre
- Greater London Forum for Older People
- Independent Age
- Barnet Seniors' Association
- Age UK Lambeth
- Age UK Islington
- Southwark Pensioners Forum
- Kingston Pensioners Forum
- Enfield Borough over 50s Forum
- Haringey Forum Over 50s Forum
- Havering Over 50s Forum
- Islington Pensioners Forum
- Merton Seniors Forum
- Sutton Seniors Forum
- The Good Care Group
Kensington Chelsea forum replied and said that they would be interested in helping us find senior citizen volunteers.
Universities / University job portals
We contacted numeral universities in and around the London region – with this being where Travel Hands is based. We contacted:
- University of London
- University of the Arts London
- London South Bank University
- University of West London
- University of East London
- Imperial College London
- University College London UCL
- Birkbeck, University of London
- Brunel University London
- University of Westminster
- Queen Mary University of London
- Kings College London
- Goldsmiths University London
- Kingston University London
We pitched a suggestion that students could make great volunteers and offered volunteering vacancies. Universities agreed to put Travel Hands volunteering on their job portals but unfortunately there has been no engagement from students.
Facebook and Instagram
No engagement from posts uploaded to social media platforms.
Posts on MeetUp and NextDoor
We uploaded volunteering opportunities on the MeetUp app but to our avail had no responses within the past few months from people within the local communities wanting to be paired with VIP for journeys.
Fitness and Lifestyle apps/bloggers
Everyone who was contacted from fitness apps and blogs / lifestyle apps and blogs did not respond to messages.
The operations team at Travel Hands have scouted our local areas for places to drop off flyers in hope of volunteer sign ups. Some of our flyers have been dropped off at community centres, local churches/places of worship and in apartment concierges. We have aimed to leave flyers within sight of local people. Though having done flyer missions for a few weeks, we have not had as many volunteer sign ups as originally hoped – only 2 in the past 2 months.
Why should you volunteer with Travel Hands?
Guided walking journeys with visually impaired people will not only benefit them but also prove beneficial to you.
- It is good for your mental health
- It prevents loneliness and isolation
- It gives you a feeling of purpose
- It helps you meet new friends
- It increases physical activity
- It helps you engage with old interests
- It helps you learn new skills
Sounds interesting? Contact our friendly team today on more information on our flexible volunteering arrangements and be matched to a VIP in your local area!
Monday to Friday – 9am to 9pm and Sunday 11am to 9pm
Phone: 0203 966 1650