An RNIB volunteer working on laptop at home

As we find ourselves one year on from the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re looking back at the impact it has had on volunteers and volunteering at RNIB. 

A lot of our face-to-face volunteering has been suspended since 23 March 2020. We also made the decision to pause community and office-based volunteer roles to keep our volunteers safe and well. 

In our annual volunteer survey, we asked volunteers how the coronavirus pandemic had affected their roles and experience. “I have not been required to volunteer this year as my role is face to face in people’s homes, which has been suspended due to coronavirus”, was unfortunately a common response.

Amanda, a Community Connection volunteer, said that “when lockdown began in March 2020, I felt quite depressed. I knew that volunteering for RNIB would be halted, which didn’t please me”. This feeling was echoed by other volunteers who responded to the annual survey.

Though much of our volunteering activity was paused during 2020, some volunteers have been able to continue their roles from home or take on different volunteering opportunities. Despite her initial thoughts about lockdown, Amanda shared: “it turns out that I’ve been very busy volunteering for RNIB during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s greatly helped with my depression and has given me lots of confidence. I’m so grateful to RNIB for making this happen.”

2020 was certainly a year to remember, for many reasons. Regarding volunteering, it was a great year!

Vivienne, who volunteers as a Campaign Coordinator.

“I was able to develop my volunteering skills and get involved in some unique projects," continued Vivienne. "I have met lots of new people and made new friends along the way. RNIB has really supported me and I always feel that my volunteering is valued and appreciated.”

The year 2020 presented twists and turns for us all. One of our volunteers, Ross, got a lot more than he expected. He said: “I started volunteering at a time when I didn't have any paid work and I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do. I hoped that volunteering with RNIB would enable me to meet new people, develop and gain new skills and get experience that would help me in the short, medium and long term. I've been able to do all of this and more. The experience surpassed my own expectations and I would say that my voluntary work was a key factor in getting my first paid job since leaving education. It’s been so enjoyable, I don't want to stop. I'm excited to take up more opportunities with RNIB.”

One volunteer said that their “volunteering has been on hold since April and it’s greatly missed”. The feeling is mutual. As restrictions begin to ease over the coming months, we’re looking forward to welcoming volunteers back to their roles where it’s safe to return. We’ll of course continue to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of our volunteers.

If you’re interested in volunteering with RNIB, check out our current opportunities.