Nicole Dyer: 5 minute read

The simple difference that volunteering can make in a time of crisis

Volunteering has been a word in common usage for hundreds of years. It is synonymous with acts of giving that are not limited to charity. Volunteer firefighters have been in common use in America since 1736 and now make up more than 70% of all firefighters in the country. At a time of crisis, they can make the difference between saving lives and disaster.

Across the world, volunteers have been supporting the frontlines in their battle against Covid-19, with the United Kingdom being no different. More than three-quarters of a million people signed up to assist the NHS to help battle Covid-19. Some of those work at OLM and I wanted to share some of the great volunteer stories that have brought a smile to my face in the last few weeks.

This is their story

Last week I touched on how we as an organisation are supporting our team and touched upon support in the community. Many of our team are displaying an extraordinary level of social awareness that is humbling to see. Many of whom have signed up to the NHS volunteer scheme, with many OLMers going above and beyond this.

From utilising 3D printers and taking part in medical studies, to picking up prescriptions and collecting shopping, alongside singing in the street and using coding skills, our OLMers have been very busy. They join thousands across the country who are using their spare moments to think of those who are vulnerable. Whether you are on the Government’s high-risk register or self-isolating at home, people are pulling together and embodying that wartime spirit.

This is their story.

Printing PPE equipment

We have all read about the shortages across the NHS that have emerged through the outbreak of Covid-19 and two OLMers have sought to help out in this capacity. A member of our software development division has been working with (a crowdsourced manufacturing setup for owners of 3D Printers) to print parts for face shields for the NHS.

Face-MaskOperating under strict Standard Operating Procedures, including the use of PETG material (the same material that plastic bottles are made of), the group of more than 3,4000 volunteers across the UK is producing PPE daily. More than 185,000 requests have been logged so far and our OLMer who is working with the group is operating two printers all day, producing 12 sets per day. These have been subsequently sent off to Swansea hospital where they are making a difference. 

Another OLMer from our ECLIPSE Security and Governance has also joined the PPE printing team. He has dusted down his 3D printer in order to produce components for PPE face masks, working with others in the region. Working together to create masks for a range of care organisations that includes the NHS and will keep going for as long as supplies are available.

Delivering peace of mind

Deliveries have never been more important. The promise of food deliveries at home has been around for years but hadn’t quite taken off, other than at Christmas but that was until Covid-19. Now finding a delivery slot is akin to panning for gold and even with priority deliveries, vulnerable people still need assistance. From those who have just been discharged from hospital and need to isolate to those who are at risk, volunteers in each and every road are making a difference.

Our team of dedicated OLMers has been helping people in their own local areas. From picking up supplies and prescriptions to just being on the end of a phone, the difference appears simple but that the impact on those receiving this kindness can be dramatic. Loneliness is running across the country with hope in short supply in places and so having a friendly voice to talk to and get essential supplies when you cannot, is making a huge difference. Taking this one step further, a member of my Human Resources team has heard a volunteer on her street playing his guitar to brighten up the days of those living on the road.

Taking the home delivery service one step further, a member of our consultancy team has reached out to a local company that she used to work for. She has been using her keyworker delivery slot to help support people with assisted living needs. Describing it as going back to her roots, and a ‘good back-to-the-floor exercise of what hands-on care is all about’.

Beyond delivery slots, a member of the consultancy team has been working with an affordable food store in his local area. Due to Covid-19, they have been required to close and have been limited to taking small orders via Facebook. Our colleague has been working with them to set up an online store to allow them to take orders more efficiently and continue serving the community as best they can. With the store being a lifeline to many low-income families, getting the store operating at full capacity is of critical importance.

Beyond home help, there is the battle for a cure and one of our team has joined an international research project on the Coronavirus.

Researching the cure

Efforts to find a cure have been prioritised across the world. This is our number one focus as a species and to do so, we need data. Data on patients who are healthy and those who have symptoms. Across the world, this essential data is being collected and will help us in the drug trials. The more information that we have, the more likely it is that these trails will produce actionable results.

Our Chief Product Officer has been taking part in an international research project which is studying physiological data to try and predict the symptoms of coronavirus. The Oura ring that he wears is tacking his sleep, exercise, food intake etc much like a FitBit does and alongside this, he is filling in a daily questionnaire about how he feels and any symptoms that have emerged. The aim of all of this is to work out an algorithm that can predict the onset, progression and recovery for Cov-19.

A great use of time and one that will hopefully help the world on its way to a cure for this deadly virus.

To conclude

I have been here for nearly two months and in that short time, I have been made to feel truly at home. People looked out for each other before the lockdown and that has only intensified since we moved to complete home working. Each day I log in and look over Slack to see the messages between staff and know that my OLM family is around me despite the miles between us. Seeing the innovative homeschooling and stories of volunteering are humbling to see. I have outlined some of these in this article as I believe it is important. None of them will see what they are doing as anything other than helping out, but I see them all as local heroes and I wanted to share their stories.

Across the world, we are seeing humbling stories of volunteers on the frontline. Whether that is collecting shopping or medication, or simply calling those who are vulnerable on the street. You don’t need to look far to find these stories of kindness and I am so proud that the organisation that I am working for has so many of these selfless people. People who place others first and think of more than just themselves.

OLM is a great company to work for and seeing these stories makes me realise that it is an organisation that gives back to the world and it brings a smile to my face every day. We are all in this together and to get through it we need to continue working with our community-minded spirit, and I am glad to say that OLM personifies this dream completely.