In an international crisis, it is almost always the actions of volunteers which really make a difference and help those most in need.

Universities are uniquely well placed to act as hubs for these efforts, so at DMU we have organised ways in which you can help your community. 

DMU Local is part of a city-wide initiative that is being coordinated by Voluntary Action Leicester (VAL) and through the City Mayor’s Office and through this network, we can offer staff and students volunteering opportunities. 

Why is the university doing this volunteering?

De Montfort University is committed to the public good and making a difference in the community. Last year, its students and staff volunteered for a total of more than 20,000 hours in the community – at a time of national crisis it is only appropriate that we now get involved and help the city and its people.

How does the university know this is the right thing to do at this time?

The university is not acting alone. This effort is part of a city-wide initiative that is being co-ordinated by Voluntary Action Leicester (VAL) and through the City Mayor’s Office. Anyone volunteering will be part of a major city-wide effort with DMU Local being responsible for certain projects - and that is where you can help.

Will I really be making a difference?

Yes, Voluntary Action Leicester (VAL) works with several hundred charities across the city of Leicester and will only be asking for volunteers for those most in need at this difficult time. It already has a network of more than 1,000 volunteers, but it is suspected that many more people will be needed to help in the coming weeks.

If I volunteer, how will this all work?

Firstly, you need to register your interest with DMU Local using this form.

You will then log on to MyGateway in the usual way and register your interest. As volunteering opportunities come in which match your skills and availability, you will be contacted by DMU Local, who will manage all opportunities involving staff and students. After initially registering your interest, there may be a bit of a time delay waiting for opportunities to come in, matching people with those opportunities and then starting volunteering. Please bear with us.

What sort of volunteering will I be doing?

This is difficult to gauge at the moment with the crisis constantly changing. But obvious examples will include helping those suffering with social isolation, the elderly and people living alone, with a telephone call and a friendly voice. Or possibly delivering food to those self-isolating or being ‘shielded’ because they have an underlying health condition. It will really depend on what the city needs.

How do I know if I have the right skills?

Don’t worry about that – you will have. Just tell us about any particular or different skills that may be relevant. If you have a telephone, or can drive then you will be of value. It may also be virtual volunteering such as business support or coaching later in the year as the country gets back to normal.

Will I get safety equipment to carry out any volunteering duties?

Some work, which can be done from your home, will not require safety equipment and you will NOT be asked to do any volunteering in high-risk situations. Where any low-level precautionary equipment is needed, such as disposal gloves or surgical masks, they will be provided at the volunteering opportunity.

What if I feel unsafe or feel the right safety equipment is not provided?

DMU Local will make every effort to ensure that this is not the case. However, if you feel in anyway uncertain about your safety and that of others at the volunteering opportunity or that you don’t have the right equipment, you should politely refuse to take part and inform DMU Local immediately. No one must take any risks with their safety.

Will I get identification as we are only supposed to be making ‘essential’ journeys?

You will be provided with all the necessary documents to carry out your volunteering opportunity, but also please carry with you your DMU security pass at all times.

I have already decided to volunteer elsewhere, so this does not apply to me?

That is marvellous. However, we would still like you to get in touch with us at local@dmu.ac.uk

The university wants to make sure that all its staff and students are supported at this time and wants you to keep in touch in case it can help in any way. We also want to build a picture of the way in which our staff and students are helping the wider community during this crisis.

What if I have any more questions that are not answered here?

You may have other questions that we have not covered. If you do, please email local@dmu.ac.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Additional staff FAQs 

Do I need anyone’s permission at the university to start volunteering?

We envisage that many staff will be carrying out volunteering during what would be their normal working hours. You should first get your line manager’s approval as this will enable staff to volunteer during paid hours. The university leadership has made it clear that this work is important to DMU and the community and, where possible, permission will be granted.

However, in certain circumstances, key staff may have to be recalled because of changing circumstances.

Is it correct that I am allowed only three days paid time off to do my volunteering?

Yes, in normal circumstances your contract allows for you to carry out three days paid volunteering as part of your contract. However, the university has suspended that policy in the present crisis and staff can do as much volunteering during their normal working hours as their line manager can accommodate. There is no longer any limit on paid days off for volunteering.

Does this mean that I’m effectively being redeployed or seconded elsewhere in the university?

No, this is not a secondment or redeployment. It is classed as volunteering and will be treated as such.

What’s the response been like so far?

More than 200 students and staff have signed up to offer their services to help Leicester’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Students, lecturers, technicians, administrators and professional services staff are among those to put their names forward for the new register, which will match them to help with tasks such as shopping, dog walking, collecting prescriptions or making friendly phone calls to check in on elderly or vulnerable people. 

Students from the Health and Life Sciences faculty, including nurses, midwives and pharmacists, have also volunteered to support the NHS.

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