Supporting people through this odd time of lockdown has been a really interesting experience. We have had to look into different ways of offering support; through email, telephone calls, video calls and running support groups and counselling online. We have had to adapt and improve in what we offer, and as such we went right up to capacity in what our volunteers could offer.
Initially rolling out one to one support and getting our groups and counselling online took a much bigger chunk of volunteer hours than our previous model. We are now starting to reach a point where that more intense support is no longer needed by some, though it remains a lifeline for others. People have started taking tentative steps back into ‘normal’ life and some of our volunteers are now able to take a break or a temporary step back to rest a while.
For other volunteers, including some who needed a break earlier on or were themselves too impacted by lockdown to help out, they are coming back in to pick up, or new volunteers signing up with us for the first time.
Going forward, we are looking at how we can continue to offer support, what models work best for remote support and how to get back to our face-to-face models of working. The best part of all this (in my mind at least) is the introduction of our new keyworker role; dedicated, named volunteers offering one to one support those who need the extra input, temporarily or longer term, for their wellbeing.
The keyworkers, alongside the online (and hopefully soon face-to-face) groups and counselling, mean we now have a much more dynamic model of support and can tailor what we offer to everyone’s needs. It seems to be working, I have members reporting less distress and more confidence, and regularly have comments, text messages or emails from them saying that we’ve helped them get through both the current situation and their wider concerns and emotional ‘stuff’ around gender identity.
Now if we could just find a few more volunteers…