Emily's story

Emily volunteered in Victoria Park during the Coronavirus pandemic

Volunteering during a pandemic: Emily's story

Emily is one of the 2,000 Tower Hamlets volunteers that offered to help during the coronavirus emergency. We asked her a few questions about her volunteering experience.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Emily, I’m 28 and live in Chongqing, China. I’ve lived in Bow for about four years and came back from February to June when the COVID-19 crisis was starting to get serious in China. I have a background in international PR and marketing, love languages and have always been involved in community or fundraising work alongside other work.
Why did you decide to volunteer during the coronavirus emergency?
I found myself unable to work whilst I was back in the UK, but was stable financially and had a safe place to live. I recognised how lucky I was to be in that situation and I wanted to be able to support others who weren’t in the same situation or whose lives were changing because of the pandemic. I had about a month or so when I came back from China to recover from the stress and confusion of it all, as I had left my friends behind very suddenly with no idea when I would see them again. Once I felt back on my feet again I signed up to receive volunteering alerts in Tower Hamlets and signed up to pretty much everything I could!

What kind of volunteering did you do?
I worked with A Plate for London giving out and delivering hot meals during the Easter holidays; First Love Foundation to deliver groceries; I was a steward in Victoria Park when it reopened; I walked a marathon in 4 days around the park to raise money for two charities (Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse, and Help Refugees); I was a telephone befriender to two older adults in TH; and I am part of the volunteer team running "What Can We Do?" a place for people to find out how they can do their part and get involved to support the UK and each other through COVID-19 and beyond. I am still part of that team now and the site is growing every day.

Who do you help through your volunteering?
I tried my hand at everything so was involved in projects supporting children missing out on their usual free school meals, and people shielding due to their age or their health status. With What Can We Do? we try to bring volunteering opportunities and community activism to people through social media, educating them on the issues and letting them know how they can get involved no matter who they are, where they are, or how much time or money they have. We want to amplify voices of groups in need, and encourage people to think about what kind of future they want post-pandemic, and the steps they can take to get there.

Has volunteering during the emergency helped you?
Volunteering has helped me a huge amount mentally. It gave me purpose during a very uncertain time, and I developed skills and friendships that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I am now more actively engaged with the issues facing our society and I have a better understanding of what we can do as individuals to support.
Inspired by Emily? Sign-up for the Tower Hamlets volunteering hub.

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