‘Burnout and Burnout’: States Seek to Increase Volunteers as Demand Grows | Volunteering

Between sorting through bulk bags of couscous and buckwheat for food baskets, a friendship has formed between two neighbors.

Pensioners Leah Bergman and Hazel Kuperholz have lived next door to each other in Melbourne’s east-central for five years, but credit their friendship to volunteering for community organization C Care, which provides ready meals.

And, unlike many other members of the organization, the couple continue their volunteer work long after the closures have ended.

“It gave me a purpose and the best thing is that I met my neighbors,” says Bergman.

Hazels agrees that their friendship was a “beautiful” result of her volunteer experience.

“We laugh, we have fun, and we’re all doing a good thing,” she says.

They were drawn to volunteering during Melbourne’s early Covid restrictions because it was a permitted activity that allowed them to escape the lockdowns.

C Care has been overwhelmed by a surge in new volunteers during the pandemic, but Lisa Ball, the organization’s manager, says the service has seen a 30% reduction in the number of regular volunteers since restrictions were eased of Covid last year.

“The need for our service is growing exponentially, so when we can’t meet that on the volunteer side, it’s very difficult to be able to ensure that everyone who needs our support can receive it,” says- she.

“For volunteers who come forward, we fear placing a burden on them that can lead to burnout and burnout.”

Volunteering is now integrated into the weekly routines of Bergman and Kuperholz. But it’s not uniform across the industry.

Australian Red Cross strategic initiatives manager Chris Kwong said he had seen a decline in the number of volunteers during the lockdowns, including the loss of international students returning home when the pandemic hit.

Volunteering Victoria chief executive Scott Miller says organizations from different sectors are still struggling to fill the gaps in the list.

“A lot of volunteers during Covid who have been furloughed…have gone to find other things to do like Netflix, spending more time with their children and grandchildren. So it’s an uphill battle.

A report by the organization found that the pandemic was correlated with a 50% drop in volunteer participation in 2020.

Last week, the New South Wales government launched a first Ministerial Task Force on Volunteering to identify challenges in the sector, including recruitment and retention.

The Government of Victoria will open applications next month for $1.3million in grants – worth up to $80,000 each – to help organizations attract new volunteers.

The government will also unveil a new volunteer strategy that will provide a roadmap for recruiting new volunteers, enticing former volunteers to return, and providing training and professional development.

Miller says the biggest challenge will be for organizations to figure out how to be more “volunteer-friendly,” with flexibility often being the biggest asset.

Comments are closed.