Volunteers at one local charity have had to go above and beyond in their efforts to ensure their fundraising activities have not been stymied by the social distancing restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19.
During National Volunteers’ Week, fundraisers and supporters of The Paul Popham Fund have been particularly inspirational in their devotion to helping people with kidney failure and inventing original ways to raise funds.
National Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people across the UK make through volunteering. This year, the coronavirus pandemic has understandably disrupted many of the ways people interact with each other and the volunteer sector has been no exception – making it far more difficult than usual for volunteers to help out in the ways they normally would.
Volunteer services are especially valuable to the most vulnerable in our communities, and with many of these people strictly self-isolating, the help these volunteer services have provided has been more vital than ever – an absolute lifeline.
It’s been one of the most heart-warming elements of the lockdown to see how so many people have voluntarily stepped up to the mark in order to help others. And the volunteers at the Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, have risen to the challenge.
Geraint John has been a volunteer with the Paul Popham Fund for 4 years. He is a kidney transplant recipient, husband, dad and grandad. As a Peer Mentor, Geraint has supported countless patients and regularly takes part in support events and education days. He was also instrumental in setting up the Paul Popham Fund ‘Walk for Health’ group.
Prior to Covid-19, Geraint would organise and lead the monthly group walks and was working on setting up further groups in other Welsh cities and towns. Recently, Geraint organised a ‘Covid-19 Sponsored Walk’ to raise funds. He walked 50,000 steps in his garden in one day, raising an enormous £1,900 in the process. Earlier this year, Geraint was deservedly nominated for the ‘Good Volunteer Award’ in the Evening Post Community Awards, which, due to Covid-19, has been rescheduled for later in the year.
Staff at the Paul Popham Fund have also come up with a number of virtual ‘transplant café’s’ – all manned by volunteers – to fill the place of their usual face-to-face meetings, which help renal patients and their families deal with the issues kidney failure and transplantation can cause. As well as their ongoing volunteer-manned careline, they have also introduced regular online quizzes and have partnered with Unity Lottery to raise funds in place of their usual fundraising events.
Jo Popham, CEO of the Paul Popham Fund, said:
“Our volunteers are absolutely vital in allowing the fund to support renal patients and their families. Many of them have undergone treatment themselves and understand the value their selfless work gives to those going through this difficult time. It’s so wonderful, therefore, to take this opportunity to shine a light on them as individuals and to thank all the UK’s volunteers for their hard work.”
The country’s charity sector has long been reliant on the voluntary sector, as well as the good will of fundraisers, to achieve its aim of helping people when they are at their most vulnerable. A recent survey of 550 charities by the Institute of Fundraising states that 48% of charities risk losing a third of their income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, due to the loss of direct debit donations and fundraising event cancellations. If this trend continues, the future of many charities will be more reliant than ever on people donating their time and inventing different ways to help raise funds.
For more information on the Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, visit www.paulpophamfund.co.uk