Italy: volunteering in times of pandemic

The pandemic was on one hand a negative and dramatic event but on the other hand, a great opportunity to re-evaluate the world of volunteering and its organisation, giving it the chance to reorganise itself and to prove itself prepared and indispensable to society, allowing people

  • to stay in touch with each other,
  • not to be abandoned
  • to feel part of a community by offering services even at a distance, e.g. telephone counselling to combat loneliness
  • provide companionship or psychological counselling, since during the pandemic many psychological problems emerged, most of them caused by an emergency situation that forced many people into isolation and social distancing.
  • One third of Italians saw their health and family life deteriorate as a result of the pandemic, as did their financial situation.

Volunteering was one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 emergency, as the general principles of volunteering (proximity, closeness and belonging) were unapplicable, but it did not stop. In fact, the sector proved to be flexible and creative by adapting to the new needs generated by the health emergency.

During the period of the emergency, the amount of work increased as volunteers tried to guarantee basic services to people in need through the distribution of food, hygiene products, clothing, medicines, shopping vouchers to families in need; provided support activities to Health Institutions for the transport of the sick and the sanitation of vehicles; offered collaboration in the vaccination campaign that began in late December by participating in activities ranging from the preparation of facilities to support in vaccination centres and many other forms of help.

Our volunteers have made themselves available to society by trying to work in environments such as hospitals, supermarkets, to ensure social distance, thus becoming centres for requesting help.

Volunteering has kept pace with society by adapting to the digital world, which has made it possible to provide many services, including online training for volunteers. Before the pandemic, training volunteers was a difficult job, whereas today, thanks to e-learning platforms, it is possible to study various topics in depth in one’s free time, creating sharing groups, exchanging images.

Undoubtedly, post-COVID-19 Italy is a frightened and insecure country, but it is likely that an experience of this kind will provide the Italian population with the necessary awareness to rebuild a more equitable and supportive society, in the hope of finally being able to look at the COVID-19 pandemic tomorrow as a necessary crisis for collective progress.

(Picture credit: CESCOT)

(This blog post was created by CRISISS -partner CESCOT.)