COVID-19 has presented a huge and ongoing challenge to the volunteering sector in South Australia.
In the early months of the pandemic, volunteering participation was cut dramatically, with many older volunteers requiring to self-isolate and social distance.
The good news is that easing of restrictions has allowed many of our valued volunteers, like Pauline (78), to return to their roles helping those who need it most.
“I think I missed volunteering and spending time with people as much as they missed having the extra support,” she said.
“When the lockdowns happened, I felt useless and found myself not leaving my house.”
After years of running her own businesses, Pauline has now been volunteering at AnglicareSA’s Westbourne Park aged care home for more than a decade. One day a week, she supports residents in various ways — through one-on-one chats, taking them on outings and assisting them to move around the home.
“The residents, especially those without family, just love having somebody who can make a cuppa for them or have a chat to — someone that will listen to them,” she said.
“It’s really important to reassure the family that their loved one is being taken care of. I just love being there for them.”
Meanwhile, across our aged care homes, many of our younger volunteers have continued on throughout the height of the pandemic to provide vital support to our staff.
AnglicareSA Grange aged care home volunteer Yasmin (24), who came on board in June, said she jumped at the opportunity to get involved.
“I thought it would be great to get some experience and see what it’s like to be in an aged care setting,” she said.
“It’s been good to see nurses and care workers working so hard to ensure the residents are well cared for.
“I love chatting and playing games like bingo with the residents. It’s so rewarding to hear that they really enjoy my company and that I’m brightening their day.”
Yasmin, who studied at Tauondi Aboriginal College, said volunteering has given her much-needed direction, and encourages other young people to “give it a go”.
“I was doing my Cert 3 in Community Services and now I’m interested in finishing that off and getting into support work,” she said.
“If you are struggling to find work like me as someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience, volunteering is a really good opportunity.”
The return of our volunteers has been incredibly valuable to our services and we have been delighted to have them back with us.
Pauline said her volunteer role enables her to socialise, give back and gives her something to look forward to. As our communities continue their road to recovery, she would love to see more people getting involved.
“I would encourage anybody who has any time at all to go and volunteer. It’s just so rewarding and worthwhile,” she said.
“Volunteers are needed so badly. It doesn’t matter if you can only do two hours — whatever time is available, it’s appreciated.”