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Holiday Heroes: the charities that are taking on holiday hunger

23 July 2020
holiday hunger

In the UK, 1.3 million children receive free school meals during term time. That’s just over 1 in every 10 children attending school in the UK.

However, when it comes to school holidays, our latest community survey indicated that around 40% of small charities provide holiday hunger relief to children and their families, with the average charity supporting around 85 children per week during the summer break. 

On the Neighbourly site alone, that adds up to around 5,600 charities supporting nearly half a million children every week.

Despite the government now pledging to support those in receipt of school meals during the summer with meal vouchers, it’s clear that there are still large gaps in our current system whereby many more children in need are being missed, and food is only one part of it.

Holiday Heroes

Here at Neighbourly, we know that some of the biggest community heroes are small charities and their hardworking volunteers that support these children by running essential school holiday programmes in the most deprived areas of the UK.

Often providing an easy-to-access service that’s tailored to the needs of their local communities - these charities are not only feeding children in need but providing activities and learning opportunities that parents and caregivers may be struggling to provide - taking a holistic view of community need by helping to support children’s and parent’s wider well-being.

To celebrate the charities supporting millions of children this summer, we’ve showcased three of these organisations to demonstrate the incredible impact they can have and why supporting them is essential.


holiday hunger catch leeds

CATCH and its volunteers are an inspiring team, whose work comprises so many incredible projects it’s hard to keep up. Based in Leeds, CATCH was set up by volunteers to improve their local area in Harehills - particularly by providing a safe space for the children and young people living there. 

Over the years CATCH has expanded hugely, now providing a community space, youth club, community farm, cafe and more. Throughout lockdown it has continued to engage and support young people in the local area, getting them involved and leading the way in everything from gardening and farming to helping at the food hub. Some have even been helping restore and convert an old bus that’s being transformed into a portable food bank for the local area.

Based in a deprived area, holiday hunger is something the charity is not unfamiliar with. In fact, they have estimated that around 70% of the young people they work with are affected. 

The additional holiday programmes they run to help keep these children and teens fuelled is therefore naturally intertwined with their day-to-day activities. And with so many wonderful young people volunteering, working hard, learning essential skills and having plenty of fun along the way, it’s easy to see how being well fed is absolutely essential.

Ibijoke Children’s Foundation UK 

holiday hunger ibijoke

For families struggling to afford to feed their children healthy, nutritious and filling meals in the school holidays, other essentials such as school uniforms, school trips and family outings can also be out of reach.

Ibijoke Foundation in Liverpool recognises the importance of ensuring that no kids miss out - not only with the food they need to grow and thrive but also on the experiences that enhance skills such as team building and practical learning beyond textbooks.

As well as providing healthy food and cooked meals, Ibijoke Children’s Centre also also runs its own weekly activities and bi-annual outings, plus extra education support such as homework clubs and maths tutoring. 

For Ibijoke Foundation and the children and families it supports, having access to good food on a regular basis is fuel for the many things needed to build a more equal society for all.

Venchie Children and Young People’s Project

holiday hunger venchie

Venchie is a non-profit community group that aims to help children in the local community of Craigmillar in Edinburgh at their own dedicated centre.

At Venchie, a team of volunteers run everything from breakfast clubs - picking 30 children from their homes and via the centre where they’re well fed and then dropped at school - to activities such as after school club and drama club. Their own in-house adventure playground makes them a popular place for children in the area to spend their time during their school holiday programmes too.

Keen to make sure no child has missed out on good food during the lockdown, Venchie came up with a unique solution to getting balanced meals into the community - via mini bus.

So, since March, they’ve been driving the Venchie mini bus full of supplies to local spots for families to collect a packed lunch along with some fresh fruit and veg. 

Funding Holiday Hunger Programmes 

As with many school summer programmes run by volunteers in our local communities, the pandemic has made it especially difficult to reach children needing the most help. 

Not all children and young people have regular internet access or access to smartphones that enable them to take part in virtual events or support sessions, and many community groups lack the funds and resources to make their summer programmes safe enough to invite children along in person.

Given the resources available and strain on small charities, it's incredible seeing organisations continue to do all they can to support children - even if it's as simple as a weekly food parcel.

Charities like these exist all over the UK and Ireland and regular donations and funding are essential to help keep their services running. That’s one of the reasons why we set up the Neighbourly Foundation and Community Fund - to make it easier to contribute directly to those looking after the health and happiness of the whole community.

We're also calling for businesses to donate a range of other products to benefit children and families this summer – including arts materials, puzzles, games or practical sports equipment.

In our recent survey of more than 1,000 community causes (including food banks, homelessness charities and community centres), 66% said they would benefit from children’s arts, craft and learning materials, with 58% saying the same for children’s toys and games, and 77% for kitchen and cooking items.

By donating other items to support the wider wellbeing of children and families, businesses can help struggling communities to get the sustenance and support they so urgently need.

New research highlights critical need to tackle food insecurity and holiday hunger

16 July 2020
food insecurity house of lords supermarket

The House of Lords Select Committee on Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment has released a report calling for the introduction of new policies to support the health and wellbeing of all through fair access to healthy food.

With their evidence coming from a wide range of expert sources, including some of Neighbourly’s own community research and feedback from thousands of charities using the platform, it’s no surprise that the report’s emphasis on spiralling rates of food insecurity across the UK are well in line with what community groups, schools and food banks have been telling us. 

As summarised in the report: “Significant numbers of people are unable to access the food they need, let alone access a healthy diet.”

The bigger picture

Estimations made by the UN suggests around 2.2 million people in the UK are severely food insecure. But with many millions more forced to choose between nutritious meals and paying their bills, the situation is likely much worse.

In our latest community survey carried out in June, charities told us that they’d seen the number of people seeking support since March more than double. With so many of the small charities we surveyed providing some sort of food relief during lockdown, the predictions quickly become alarming.

Yet without any UK-wide figures collected on those affected - and the causes - we’re left with the growing queues outside food banks as one of our only indicators of the need for change.

Whilst we can see that there is a huge problem, our government currently lacks the in-depth knowledge of the root causes which can inform the most efficient and considerate ways for the problem to be tackled.

Key recommendations

When looking specifically at food insecurity, the report’s key recommendations are:

  • To introduce detailed, routine and fully transparent monitoring of food insecurity in the UK - the findings of which can be used to inform socio-economic reforms in policy

  • Address problems around Universal Credit, particularly around the 5 week wait which, for many families, means they are left without enough money for food

  • To re-evaluate the affordability of Public Health England’s Eat Well Guide and factor its cost into welfare and benefit reform to ensure a healthy diet is affordable for all

  • Improve access to healthy food for school age children by reforming and expanding existing schemes - including Healthy Start vouchers, free school meals and holiday hunger programmes

Food to grow

house of lords holiday hunger

With school holidays now upon us, one of the most pressing on this list of recommendations is holiday hunger.

Although the government has now pledged to extend the free school meal vouchers introduced during lockdown to cover the summer, evidence from food banks suggests the current system is not enough.

Results from our survey suggest that at least 40% of Neighbourly causes are involved in holiday hunger programmes and that they are helping an average of 85 children per organisation every week during the school holidays.

Even if these suggested changes in policy are taken forward, they are unlikely to have an impact quickly enough for the millions of children in the UK who are living below the poverty line right now.

Supporting charities with better policies

Whilst charities are bearing the burden of the nation’s food crisis, providing support to them in the form of funding is integral to ensuring the country’s most vulnerable children are nourished with healthy food to carry them through the long summer break.  

Funds such as the Neighbourly Community Fund, which supports smaller grassroots charities, food banks and holiday hunger programmes, is one of the funds that has been helping to keep these local lifelines running. Seeing large corporate businesses invest in the needs of their local communities through donations to these funds has been a hugely positive shift that’s been all the more prominent during the pandemic.

As we begin to work together with more community-focused momentum, we need more socially minded businesses like these offering continued hope to the small charities which collectively make a huge impact.

Time will tell if new policies can start to tackle the issue of food insecurity in the UK. We look forward to a time when charities no longer need to be welfare firefighters, instead diverting their attention - and funds - to the things that matter the most to them and their local communities.

Why we are supporting Stop Hate For Profit

7 July 2020
stop hate for profit final

We stand for many things here at Neighbourly but at the heart of everything is responsible business practices and community.


We believe that every person, family, community and society should have access to information which is true, inclusive and free from hate. That is why we are standing with other businesses around the world to boycott Facebook advertising until firm action is taken.


There is no room for discrimination in our society - now more than ever. As we embark on the most critical time of our lives as the global pandemic takes hold and economic shockwaves are felt - bringing communities together to collaborate positively is essential. 


With that, ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ should be embraced as a core value by all business leaders, politicians, community leaders and citizens.

Fund communities, not hate

Facebook makes $70 billion a year from advertising. The Stop Hate For Profit campaign asks us: what would you do with it?

We'd invest in our communities - into the hundreds of thousands of local charities that are looking after us all as part of this crisis but now face a £4 billion shortfall in funding in the next 12 weeks. 

Whilst business leaders and politicians look ahead to piece together a fractured economy, we must not forget the smaller and more humble causes that, collectively, have prevented our communities from falling apart.

By championing the organisations that fight for the vulnerable in society and give people a voice - we can #BuildBackTogether.

To find out more about the Facebook boycott and reasons behind the campaign, head to the Stop Hate For Profit website.

Let’s Talk Loneliness: A Q&A With Danone’s Volunteer Befrienders

16 June 2020
danone befrienders loneliness awareness week

According to research from British Red Cross and Co Op, over 9 million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely.

Loneliness is one of the most complex of human emotions that touches us all - old or young, rich or poor. Yet, for those affected, it’s rarely talked about. 

Through the Neighbourly community, we’ve seen the tremendous impact small charities and volunteers can have on reducing the sense of loneliness and isolation vulnerable groups can feel. 

This week, with the Marmalade Trust spreading awareness through its Loneliness Awareness Week 'Let's Talk Loneliness' campaign, we caught up with two employee volunteers from our partner Danone who have signed up as remote befrienders at local charities to find out how they’re connecting with others to help them feel less isolated and alone.

Giving back

danone befriender beth

Beth Underwood, a Shopper Marketing Manager at Danone Dairy UK, always wanted to find a way to volunteer when she moved to London nearly three years ago, but struggled to find anything suitable.

Since discovering the more flexible and remote volunteering options through Danone’s partnership with Neighbourly, she’s now signed up with not one, but two charities - Dorset Mind and Greenwich & Bexley Hospice.

“Covid-19 has made me more determined to volunteer”, she says. “I’m really close to my grandparents (pictured above) but they live a four-hour drive away, so I haven’t been able to see them in months. I video call them every day, but I know that many older people are not as fortunate to have this kind of regular contact with others.”


For Samantha Legg, Danone's Head of Legal Affairs, who has been writing letters to the elderly through Selly Oak MHA, the motivation to connect to others was due to being separated from her father during the lockdown. "My father, who lives in France, unfortunately suffers from dementia", she tells us. 

"It has become increasingly difficult over the past several months for us to connect to him remotely. This has been a difficult time for myself and my daughter, who was particularly keen to retain some meaningful connection to her grandparents’ generation."

A friendly voice

Pre Covid, Sam and her daughter Anita had been visiting the residents of a local care home on a regular basis, so already knew what a huge difference a friendly face and connection could make.

Continuing these visits on a remote basis, she tells us: “In addition to bringing a little bit of joy to those who are experiencing loneliness, this is also an opportunity for myself and my daughter to continue to connect to, appreciate and learn from our older generation.”

Beth on the other hand, who’d previously held a career in Psychology, had seen some of the negative impacts of poor mental health and isolation. Her motivation to volunteer came from a desire to use her skills to give back.

“From my previous experience of working in a hospital and care home, I know first-hand how much of a difference a friendly face or voice and a conversation about something silly can make to those who may be having a difficult time”, she says.

“I also know how much value a sense of regular contact and commitment has from someone external to friends, family or health workers.”

Friendship and support

anita befriending LAW danone

Whilst Beth and Sam’s volunteering will inevitably be helping others to feel less alone, befriending can mean different things to different charities and the people that are a part of them. 

For Sam’s daughter Anita, who enjoys drawing and colouring, this means bonding through art as well as words and the crafty pair have also been sending brightly coloured pictures along with their letters, to bring additional brightness and cheer to those they’re connecting with.

Meanwhile, Beth will be experiencing two different ways of supporting others remotely. She explains: “Volunteering at the hospice will involve making regular calls to individuals who are part of the hospice but working at home and missing out on social contact. It will involve simply having a conversation, like I would with a friend, to support with loneliness. 

“For the Mind befriending, I will be matched to one client who is managing their mental health condition with professionals. I will then have scheduled 30min conversations every fortnight and go through a specific ‘goal’ programme over a 3 month period.”

Huge thanks to Beth and Sam for taking the time to share their stories and experiences. To get involved in Loneliness Awareness Week, check out the Marmalade Trust website.

To find out how Neighbourly matches businesses’ volunteer skills with its network of vetted good causes, head to our Volunteering page. If you're a charity that's looking to recruit some volunteers, create a volunteer event on your Neighbourly project page. You can get in touch if you have any questions by emailing hello@neighbourly.com.

Hachette UK donates 12,000 books through Neighbourly platform

12 June 2020
hachette book donation

Publisher Hachette UK has donated a whopping 12,000 books to charities and community groups on Neighbourly to help those who need them most during this period of self-isolation.

“Books connect us and that’s never been more important than now, when we’re physically apart”

The donation included a large number of Fearne Cotton’s ‘Calm’ journals which went to staff and patients at the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, the perfect antidote to those needing to work through feelings of anxiety and distress from the situations they face in hospitals during this crisis.

Malcolm Heaven, who works as a project specialist for the trust, says: “The donation of 'Calm' journals has meant so much to the staff at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. They have brought some positivity and motivated our staff and their most vulnerable patients to look after themselves and their wellbeing at such a challenging and difficult time.  

“The books have been used by staff who are self-isolating and by ward teams and young patients in hospitals. Our teams have put in so much hard work keeping patients safe during the pandemic and we're grateful that we were able to thank and support them with these books.”

hachette book donation nhs leicestershire

Bags of sunshine

Over at Age UK Oxfordshire, the book donation went towards their ‘Bags of Sunshine’ scheme.

Ruth Swift, Head of Community Development at Age UK Oxfordshire, explains: "These Bags of Sunshine were designed to let older people know that they are still cared about, still thought of and that we are still here to help when they are even more isolated than usual due to Covid-19. The books will have a great impact on lifting spirits and relieving boredom during this time." 

Another beneficiary of the book donations was the Children’s Book Project - a charity based in London that gifts books that children have grown out of, to those with few of their own. Their ultimate aim is for every child to experience the emotional pleasure and escapism of a book that they have chosen themselves.

“It's about the creative spark that all children can get from opening a book and getting lost in a fantasy world”

Liberty Venn from The Children’s Book Project says: "The books from Hachette have been very gratefully received by the schools and communities we work with. They have played a key role in reassuring parents and carers that they are not expected to be teachers. 

“One of the schools which received Hachette books told us it's not just about home learning; it's about the creative spark that all children can get from opening a book and getting lost in a fantasy world or a world full of facts and figures. At this particularly challenging time, this gift of books has allowed them to spend a vital few minutes engaging with the parents and sometimes the children while they are collecting their books.”

Words and actions 

At Hachette UK, their goal is to make it easy for all people everywhere to access new worlds of learning, entertainment and opportunity. 

David Shelley, CEO of Hachette UK says: “Books connect us and that’s never been more important than now, when we’re physically apart. These are just a few of the deserving causes we’ve been able to help, and we hope our books have opened up new worlds of entertainment and learning for these communities during the lockdown.”

Head to Hachette UK’s page on Neighbourly to find out more about their book donation. To find out how Neighbourly matches businesses’ product donations to its network of vetted good causes, head to our Product Surplus page.

We Stand With You

10 June 2020

We entered this week as a proud Bristolian business – the removal of the statue of Edward Colston during the Black Lives Matter protests, whether you agree with it or not, has opened the door further for the uncomfortable conversations we need to have, which are reverberating around the world and have finally reached our UK parliament. Racism is systemic in our society – it’s conscious and unconscious and goes unchecked as we sleepwalk through our lives.

Rarely has there been an occasion when Ben & Jerry's and Banksy have been singing from the same song sheet, such is the urgency of the debate that we need to have, calling for an end to “white supremacy” - not self-conscious racism but the political, economic and cultural system in which white people overwhelmingly control power and material resources - and that “people of colour are being failed by the system – the white system”.

The words they use are strong, powerful, uncomfortable and deliberate. The atrocious death of George Floyd is yet one more lost life to add to the list of countless others who have died at the hands of police brutality, disadvantaged by an unequal society, living in underfunded communities and fighting for survival on a daily basis. White privilege is a real thing that has existed for as long as we can remember. It is the responsibility of all white people to acknowledge and consciously reflect on the wrongs that have gone before. 

The Covid-19 crisis has sadly amplified the situation further by highlighting the undeniable fact that this social disparity has meant the virus has killed more people from BAME communities than others, so not only is the ‘conversation’ urgent, but action needed is too.

These events underpin the importance of how the Neighbourly platform operates, providing micro-grants, surplus food and volunteers to causes supporting those hardest hit in our communities. We commit to ensuring that beneficiary charities working hard to support minority groups or striving for their equality and representation are heard, now and in the future. We will use this moment to call to action businesses and individuals alike to maintain their support for these grassroots organisations that have made a critical difference to BAME communities, not just over the last 12 weeks of the pandemic but for as long as they have existed.

Right here, right now, as our normal everyday lives have been put on hold and our habits have been broken by the Coronavirus crisis, it creates the moment to catalyse change in our local communities around the globe. But change starts with “I” as well as “we”. Personal responsibility, personal commitment and personal accountability. No more sleepwalking or ignorance. No more apathy.

We must “build back better”, celebrate historical moments that reflect progress, which remind our communities and our Government how we must change, that inequality is not acceptable and make a personal commitment to "be the change we want to see in the world".

Leaders call on Prime Minister to create socially just and green recovery from Covid-19

9 June 2020

A letter sent to the Prime Minister on Tuesday 9th June, signed by Neighbourly CEO Steve Butterworth along with more than 100 renowned individuals, companies, charities, universities, and trade associations has called on the UK Government to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of UK Covid-19 recovery plans. 

The letter references a statement made by the Prime Minister at the Financing for Development event on 28 May where he called for "fairer, greener and more resilient global economy" after Covid-19. He said that we must ‘work together to get shared goals back on track including [...] the Sustainable Development Goals’.

The letter supports this and states ‘we do not need to reinvent frameworks or agreements, we can instead use the global goals as the basis for a socially just and green recovery in the UK and abroad’.

Early evidence from the Business and Sustainable Development Commission showed that if implemented the SDGs create at least US$12tn in business opportunities in just 60 market hotspots and estimates this could be 2-3 times bigger across the whole economy.  

The letter has been coordinated by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and the United Nations Global Compact Network UK (GCN UK).

Signatories, along side Neighbourly, include: the leaders of Leonard Cheshire, Natwest Group, Nestle UK & Ireland, Linklaters, Clifford Chance, The Body Shop, SSE, HSBC, Standard Life Aberdeen, Mott MacDonald and Unilever; filmmaker Richard Curtis; the Mayor of Bristol; Chairman of the Local Government Association and Dr Mya-Rose Craig (aka Birdgirl).

The letter states that the ‘SDGs provide an internationally agreed framework, which also works at national, regional and local level, alongside and reinforcing existing plans and commitments.’

It asks that the SDGs be used ‘used to consolidate and future-proof [recovery] plans’ and goes on to recommend that they are used to:

  1. Prioritise the most vulnerable in our society and level-up regional and societal inequalities
  2. Build coherent policies for a healthy planet and to aid the transition to net zero
  3. Unite all sectors behind a plan to build a stronger and more resilient economy

The SDGs are part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and give a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. There are 17 Goals at its centre, encompassing climate action, education and health.

Unfortunately, the UKSSD Measuring Up report, found gaps in policy or inadequate performance for 57% of targets, and 15% where there is little to no policy in place to address it, or where performance is poor. It anticipates that this situation will be worsened by the societal and economic impacts of Covid-19. 

Richard Curtis, UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, film writer, director and co-founder of Project Everyone has said:

“The COVID crisis has shown more than ever that we must work together to secure a better future. The Global Goals are a powerful tool to help us do this; they provide a common vision and a practical blueprint for collaboration. The breadth of support for this letter demonstrates a commitment to working with the UK government to deliver healthy lives, healthy societies and a healthy planet for everyone. We can only build back better together and I hope that the Government will use the Goals to help them do this”

Read the letter in full here.

New Danone volunteer partnership helps young people with employment skills

5 June 2020
remote employee volunteering schools danone

For the past few weeks, our team has been matching Danone employees with local charities and community groups as part of our brand new Remote Volunteering programme.

One of the first to volunteer was Sales Lead, Miriam Tellis. After a great first experience and keen to encourage other employees to take up volunteering from home, she’s shared her experience of running a workshop for the IGD Feeding Britain’s Future schools programme.

“I can’t recommend remote volunteering highly enough – it offers a safe and flexible way to make a big difference”

Here’s what she had to say:

“As part of our dual project for business success and social progress, Danone is committed to supporting communities across the UK and Ireland throughout and beyond these challenging times. 

“As part of this, we’re adapting our volunteering schemes so that employees can volunteer from home, to support charities and people across the UK and Ireland. Through our partnership with Neighbourly, employees’ skills and availability are being matched with community needs.

“With many young people facing an uncertain time and contending with anxieties and challenges around future unemployment, I volunteered at an IGD Feeding Britain’s Future school workshop to help inspire and educate students about the world of work in the food and grocery industry. These workshops are a great initiative to connect industry professionals with young people and to share guidance on the skills needed in the workplace.  

“I participated in a quiz and panel discussion to share my insights into the varied roles available in the industry, and how we are adapting our ways of working during COVID-19. 

Speaking with over 50 secondary school students from different schools it was heartening to see pupils so engaged and interested about the role our industry has played during the pandemic. 

“We all have a role to play as we collectively rebuild from the crisis, and I can’t recommend remote volunteering highly enough – it offers a safe and flexible way to make a big difference:

  • It was hugely rewarding to contribute something practical for young people during a difficult time 
  • The process is really simple – Neighbourly found me a volunteering match and within a few days 
  • You can support people wherever they might be based, all while at home, fitting around other time commitments – I could fit the workshop into my usual workday

“I connected with the wider community which felt great to speak to a different audience and make a difference.

“I’m already looking forward to getting involved again, and encourage others to do the same.”

Thanks to Miriam for flying the flag for employee volunteering and taking the time to share her experience. 

To find out how Neighbourly matches businesses’ volunteer skills with its network of vetted good causes, head to our Volunteering page. If you're a charity that's looking to recruit some volunteers, create a volunteer event on your Neighbourly project page. You can get in touch if you have any questions by emailing hello@neighbourly.com.

5 ways employee volunteers can support charities from home

4 June 2020
remote volunteering projects

With many charities experiencing both an increased demand for services and a reduction in the number of volunteers due to social distancing, we’ve been on a mission to match skilled employees with local charities and community groups across the UK.

Many of the charities and good causes we work with are either completely reliant on volunteers or have had to divert their senior staff to support the rise in vulnerable people and families in crisis.

In response, we’ve been working with our partners Danone, The Football Association and Heineken to launch our Remote Volunteering programme. These large companies have thousands of experienced professionals and experts on everything from marketing and tech to administration and financial management who are keen to support their local communities.

This week, to celebrate Volunteer’s Week, we’re excited to share some of the projects these employee volunteers have been working on to support charities, community groups and vulnerable people from the comfort of their sofa.

Inspiring children and young people

remote volunteering inspiring children

With most children and young people still out of school and education and many questioning what their future might look like, charities have been working to support and inspire students and young people to stay curious, learn and discover new skills during lockdown.

One of the most active projects we’ve seen here has been between Danone employees and the IGD's Feeding Britain's Future Schools Programme.

As part of the programme, employees have been leading interactive workshops for school children to inform and inspire students about the world of work.

Miriam Tellis, a Sales Lead at Danone, has already run one of these workshops and found it a great success. She recently wrote in a post “[We spoke] to 50+ students from two UK schools, discussing the wide range of jobs within the food and drink industry and how shopper behaviour has changed during lock down. [There's never been] a better opportunity to showcase our industry to future talent.”

Meanwhile in Berkshire, ABC Reading - a voluntary group that supports schoolchildren in learning to read - had to cease their efforts after the closure of schools in March.

Instead volunteers have been doing as much as they can to inspire children to keep reading at home - and have recruited employee volunteers to put together and send out ‘story sacks’. Some have even been perfecting their best reading voices and signed up to record themselves storytelling.

Boosting marketing and PR

remote volunteering marketing

For charities who’ve had to drop their social media channels, blog or marketing strategy in favour of urgent support work, there have been a few projects popping up for marketing experts to help get things going again.

Chiltern MS has sadly lost a significant amount of its income due to Covid-19. However, with their non-profit paid-for physiotherapy service offering hope for recovering some of their lost income, they have recruited an employee volunteer to update their website and launch a marketing campaign to get things back on track.

For non-profit community group More Trees BANES in Bath, a small group of volunteers has come on board to help with communications, copywriting, PR, research, project management and policy creation to help with the launch of their upcoming Community Tree Nurseries campaign.

Supporting job seekers

remote volunteers supporting job seekers

One of the biggest negative impacts of the pandemic has been in the loss of work for many thousands of people. Jobcare, a charity based in Dublin, is providing support to people who are desperate to find and keep satisfying employment. To help out during a time of social distancing, a team of employee volunteers have signed up to provide one-to-one remote coaching for jobseekers covering everything from career advice to mock interviews.

In the South of England, Milton-Keynes charity Worktree is focussed on youth careers, recruiting employee volunteers to answer nine questions about their careers on film - a ‘Career Snapshot’ - so that they can develop a human library of careers for young people to explore at home.

Letter writing and befriending

remote volunteering letter writing

In attempt to quell the increasing sense of loneliness and isolation many individuals, particularly the elderly and those living alone with health conditions, have been feeling during lockdown, many charities have stepped in to up befriending and letter writing schemes to aid in the remote friendship building that can keep hopes up during these tough times.

Plenty of employee volunteers have already signed up to provide either telephone befriending or connect up with a pen pal to help those who are vulnerable feel less alone, with charities involved across the UK, including Dorset Mind, UACS Elderly Person Project in London, Age Concern Chipping Norton and more.

Data and admin assistance

remote volunteering data admin

With data and admin tasks often put on the back burner during times of crisis, charities are requesting extra help in this area to keep things running smoothly.

Skylarks, an independent charity supporting children and young people with additional needs in Richmond-upon-Thames has just three employed staff - so having some remote volunteers come on board has meant they’ll have the extra help they need with everything from designing posters and leaflets to updating essential contact information directories.

On the more technical side of things, Express CIC which supports children and young people with autism, is hoping to use the pool of employee volunteers to find a database expert to build them an automated database so they can reach people in need more effectively.

These are just a handful of projects that have been set up through the Neighbourly platform between our partners, their fantastic employees and the charities that are working so hard to help as many people as they can through the pandemic and beyond.

To find out how Neighbourly matches businesses’ volunteer skills with its network of vetted good causes, head to our Volunteering page. If you're a charity that's looking to recruit some volunteers, create a volunteer event on your Neighbourly project page. You can get in touch if you have any questions by emailing hello@neighbourly.com.

Remote employee volunteering could offer lifeline to charities across the UK

28 May 2020
working from home remote volunteering

Since the onset of strict social distancing measures in March, many charities and community groups have seen an unprecedented increase in demand for their services - along with a reduction in face-to-face volunteering as individuals and families are forced to self-isolate or care for others.

With the employee volunteering schemes that usually peak during the spring and summer also facing massive disruption, we knew we needed to help employees switch their approach.

“54% of charities said that they needed the help of remote volunteers to continue to support vulnerable people”

We sent out a survey to the good causes and charities registered on Neighbourly which, with almost 1,000 responses, has highlighted a real need for remote employee volunteering.

80% of the front-line charities and community groups in our survey, which included food banks, homeless charities and disability groups, said the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing has forced them to adapt their services.

With that, 54% said that they felt they could use the help of remote volunteers to continue to support both vulnerable people and with the running of services in the coming weeks and months.

“Remote volunteering presents a major opportunity for our hospice to recruit younger members in the community who have vital digital knowledge”

Jon Devlin, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Greenwich and Bexley Hospice says: “We have 700 patients, and many of our volunteers are aged over 60, so are currently unable to provide their usual support. Remote volunteering presents a major opportunity for our hospice to recruit younger members in the community who have vital digital knowledge, time on their hands, and are looking for ways to make a difference.”

Volunteering from home

volunteering from home virtual

Large corporate organisations, with highly-skilled and experienced employees based across the UK, are in a unique position to assist charities whose senior teams have had to divert away from tasks like charity finances, fundraising and marketing, to focus on essential support work for vulnerable groups.

“By matching relevant skills with charities’ need, businesses can support essential services at a time when they are needed more than ever”

Steve Butterworth, CEO of Neighbourly, explains: “We all have a crucial role to play as we start to rebuild from the crisis while continuing to help people in need. By channelling volunteer skills into local organisations who are already doing vital work, we can help to ensure that the right support reaches the most at-risk people.

“Volunteering from home offers a safe and flexible way for people to make a big difference. Employees can support good causes wherever they might be based – all while at home, fitting around other time commitments. By matching relevant skills with charities’ need, businesses can support essential services at a time when they are needed more than ever.

“It’s not just charities who will benefit. Volunteering has important wellbeing benefits for the volunteers themselves, and helps people feel engaged and rewarded – all of which is particularly important in helping to stay connected and motivated while working from home, or furloughed.”

Corporate heroes

So with next week’s Volunteer’s Week marking one of the peak weeks of employee volunteering in the yearly calendar - we’ve been working with our partners Danone, Heineken and The Football Association to help them adapt their volunteering schemes, enabling their employees to offer skill sharing and practical remote support to good causes local to them.

“We have a passionate and motivated group of ‘Danoners’ who are eager to volunteer and offer support and advice”

This means employees will be helping charities with everything from website and financial management, fundraising and social media, to befriending and letter writing to isolated people - all from home.

letter writing virtual volunteering

Chris Hillman, Head of Sustainability & Social Innovation at Danone, adds: “At Danone we’re committed to supporting our community, and throughout this crisis it has never been more important to help charities. Not just with donations of money or food, but also by donating time and skills to help others. 

“We have a passionate and motivated group of ‘Danoners’ who are eager to volunteer and offer support and advice. We’re proud to team up with Neighbourly to support charities through virtual volunteering.”

Click here to find out how Neighbourly matches businesses’ volunteer skills with its network of vetted good causes. Neighbourly is committed to creating measurable outcomes through remote volunteering, with those who give their time and skills able to see a real-time positive impact.