During the corona lockdown, assistance from volunteers was inadequate for one-third of those in need, according to new research from Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) Erasmus University and Nlvoorelkaar.
Results from this corona-aid study carried out among participants of ‘NLvoorelkaar’, the largest volunteer platform in the Netherlands, show that while vulnerable target groups were kept safe, they suffered from hampered social contact resulting in increased loneliness.
The survey shows that 40% of those in need of help found it more difficult than normal to ask for help during the corona crisis. Fear of contamination, the assumption that it’s not allowed to help, family and professionals being too busy or absent, fragmentation of places where help can be sought and inflexible guidelines of organisations hinder the perceived possibilities to ask for and receive help.
According to Professor Lucas Meijs: ‘Just like previous crises, the corona crisis presented the same challenge: on the one hand, the volunteer energy burst immediately and on the other hand, some organizations stopped all volunteer activities for safety reasons, such as when nursing homes and community centres were closed.’
In the corona relief study, various professionals also indicated that the care provision was limited by inflexible, unclear or slow regulations within the organization and the fear of a fine.
According to Jeroen de Punder, Director of NLvoorelkaar: ‘Few things are certain in life, but we must and can already take into account the next crisis, so we can prepare for that. The research shows that many things are going well, so we have to keep doing them. But there are also areas for improvement. Volunteers should be able to help even more easily – now 35% of the capacity remained unused – and we can help those in need by recruiting for their specific needs now. That’s why we are already starting a campaign against loneliness. We call on each other this summer to look more closely at each other and at a local level we connect people who are looking for contact.’
Professor Meijs says: ‘Additionally, we can support professionals in reducing demand shyness. Give them the space to deal flexibly and creatively with the rules during a crisis through a well-prepared plan of action and clear regulations regarding voluntary work in crisis situations.’
Image credit: Freepik
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