Year of Volunteering – Keeping in touch during the pandemic through letters

University of Chester student Lucy has been writing letters to young and elderly people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to help reduce loneliness and isolation.

The Year of Volunteering campaign, which is run jointly by Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA), has been relaunched to continue the celebration of volunteers.

With September labelled Younger Volunteering Month, Lucy is a great example how somebody’s been using their spare time during the pandemic to make a real difference to other people’s lives.

Lucy said: “I wanted to get involved with volunteering before lockdown, but the only thing that put me off was being a first-year student.

“All of the people in my halls were very sociable and three of the girls often talked about their volunteering experience so it’s something I wanted to get involved with.

“I got in touch with the Volunteering team at the University in March and I’ve been taking part in the Letters against Loneliness project since then.

“The letters are there for people to read so no one feels isolated and we can combat loneliness together.

“I sometimes add images either of myself, my cat or a beach so young people have different scenes to look at, allowing their imaginations to take them away.

“I’ve also started writing letters to primary schools. One of the volunteer coordinators wrote me an email to say I should put myself forward as a Project Leader.

“I was so pleased to hear I’d been given the role and I can’t wait to start working with such a lovely team.”

More people than ever before have found themselves volunteering during the pandemic, supporting others in their local communities.

Given the benefits she has seen first hand through volunteering, it is certainly something Lucy would encourage other people to take up.

She added: “It’s a personal sense of achievement hoping you’re making a difference to people’s lives.

“There are endless opportunities out there that don’t take too much time and allow you to give something back to the community.

“For people like me, volunteering is something you can easily fit around your studies because you can choose the hours you’d like to help out.

“I feel a lot more confident about myself and some of that’s down to the great feedback I’ve had.”

As part of the Year of Volunteering campaign, nominations are open for Volunteers Awards Month in December.

There are several different awards, such as Younger Volunteer of the Year, Older Volunteer of the Year, Inspirational Volunteer of the Year, Special Contribution to the COVID-19 Response and more.

The deadline for all nominations is 30 October. From 1 December, the Council and CWVA will be announcing the different winners daily and putting together stories to highlight all the great work they’ve been doing.

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