Getting back to normal - How to support volunteers and participants back to face to face activities

Big Advice Day blog

As life slowly gets back to some form of normality, we need to look at restarting face to face activities.

Whilst some groups and organisations have been using Zoom to hold activities online during the pandemic, others have had to put activities on hold.

From conversations we’ve had its clear some people are reluctant to return to face to face activities, as being isolated from their friends and family for over a year has had a negative impact on their confidence, mental health and wellbeing. However we know how important it is for people to return to seeing their friends and family in person, as this will help them begin their journey to recovery and reduce social isolation. 

The question is how can we do this safely and with the appropriate support?

At Salford CVS we run two Covid Risk Assessment Courses – Getting Ready to Reopen and Individual Risk Assessments.  As part of the Getting Ready to Reopen session we cover Workplace and Workforce Risk Assessments, which includes a section on psychological wellbeing. This is an opportunity to think about what you need to have in place to support staff, volunteers and participants to return to face to face activities safely. Dates of the latest courses can be found on our event feed.

In addition Public Health England has funded two Psychological First Aid Courses available for free on the online learning platform Future Learn. These courses take three hours to complete and you will learn how to give practical and emotional support to individuals using psychological first aid.  Links to the courses below:

One of the key aspects of getting people back to activities is to communicate to them, before they return, what measures are in place to keep them safe and what they need to do to keep themselves and others safe. These measures are identified through the COVID-19 Workplace / Workforce risk assessment (see Getting Ready to Reopen course). You can communicate these measures through a zoom session, newsletter or even a telephone call. If the person has significant risks or is really anxious about returning, you can offer them an individual risk assessment where they can talk through their concerns (see Individual Risk Assessment course).

When you have people back to activities, it’s always worth having a member of staff or volunteer on hand to keep an eye on participants’ emotional state and provide support where necessary. This is where the psychological first aid course is really useful as it enables staff and volunteers provide this support.

Let people know at the beginning of the session it is okay if they want to leave early, as it may take time for them to get used to being with other people. Also consider having a dedicated timeout zone where people can go to if they feel overwhelmed.

For the majority of people they will be thrilled to be back doing the activities they love and meeting their friends, but in the words of the Scouts “Be Prepared”. The pandemic has radically changed people’s lives and it will take time for people to feel comfortable in face to face activities, so it’s your role to make sure you this is done both safely and sensitively.

If you have any questions please get in touch with Anne-Marie Marshall, Services Manager, Annemarie.marshall@salfordcvs.co.uk

Salford CVS
Author: 
Anne-Marie Marshall, Services Manager

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Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; providing specialist information, advice, development support and opportunities for influence and collaboration.

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