Advice NI 2021 Volunteering Update

2021 was a busy year for volunteering activities within Advice NI despite the constraints of Covid19.

Below outlines some highlights from throughout the year: 

Supporting families digitally

At the beginning of the year Advice NI was approached by the Digital Inclusion Unit within the Department of Finance to see if our Digi Volunteers would assist the Education Authority with the online registration process for Pre-school and Primary. Over three weeks in January our dedicated volunteers worked with parents remotely, over the phone, which is no mean feat, to assist with any technical issues. Our wonderful volunteers supported over 30 families.

Well Warm and Connected (WWC) Programme

From January through to March, Advice NI was delighted to welcome a number of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) staff who volunteered their time to assist on the Warm Well Connected (WWC) Programme. The WWC programme provided crisis support for eligible households from specific groups with emergency need for help with the cost of either electricity, gas, oil. With training and ongoing support the PwC volunteers worked alongside staff on the high volume helpline to take and process calls from the public and make onward referrals.

Research: Impact of Covid19 on Volunteering

In February a short online survey was developed for members across the Independent Advice Network. The purpose of this piece of research was to ascertain the following: current volunteering position, needs in terms of volunteers given the impact of Covid19 and support needed moving forward. Responses were collated into an insightful report which outlines a number of proposed recommendations and actions to inform our work in relation to volunteering throughout 2021/2022.

Volunteers Week June 2021

This year’s UK wide Volunteers Week theme was ‘A time to say thanks’ - recognising and thanking all volunteers who supported communities throughout this pandemic and all those who usually volunteer but have not been able to because of coronavirus. An online event was held to bring volunteers together to celebrate the week and highlight their vital and valued contribution. A number of Heads of Service attended along with our Deputy CEO. It provided the perfect opportunity for us to express a word of thanks to our volunteers.

Volunteer Driver recruitment

In the summer Advice NI recruited two new volunteer drivers for our mobile advice service. This service, staffed by trained and experienced advisers helps the most marginalised and vulnerable people in accessing their rights and entitlements, maximising their income and addressing financial/money concerns. The van can be hosted at various member’s sites/centres or in specific community areas of need as identified by our members. Volunteers are key to delivering this service.

Volunteers join the Quality Team

In August we had a recruitment drive for volunteers to join the Quality Team. We were delighted to recruit volunteers for two key roles - Policy Development Volunteer and Volunteer Quality Assessor.

Supporting older people

Throughout the year volunteers delivered Basic Digi Skills programme via Zoom to older people living in supported housing. These courses are delivered over a period of 5 weeks and focus on things like how to use Zoom, getting online and other safety issues. These courses are a vital first step to tackling potential social isolation by helping people feel more confident and connected. During November and December we recruited and trained 6 new volunteers for the project.  

Digi Money Project

Our new Begin Together - Digi Money project, is currently recruiting volunteer Digi Money Champions from migrant communities and particularly those who speak a language in addition to English. Each volunteer Digi Money Champion who completes the training will get to keep a digital tablet and be supported to deliver digital skills training to those in their own community needing help to access technology to improve their Digi skills and financial wellbeing. This project will be rolled out over 2022.

Thank you

Advice NI would like to say a massive thank you to all our valued volunteers this year, for your ongoing commitment and dedication. We couldn’t deliver the projects that we do without you. You all show such enthusiasm and generosity of spirt.  THANK YOU!!