Furlonteer Q&A with Kat Wellings
Please could you introduce yourself to us and how you came to hear about Furlonteer?
My name's Kat, I'm 29 and live in SE London. I left my job at a creative agency at the end of March and was due to start a new job in early April, but unfortunately this fell through the week before I started due to the virus. I heard about Furlonteer when a friend posted about it on social media.
What made you want to want to sign up as a Furlonteer?
I found myself with endless time on my hands and initially flung myself into typical lockdown activities (running, yoga, baking - all of which I still do and enjoy!), but after a few weeks my days became less and less fulfilling and my mental health suffered tremendously. Seeing other people doing amazing things in the community had inspired me to use my spare time to volunteer, but I wasn't sure where I could add value. Ultimately when I saw a friend post about Furlonteer on Instagram something clicked; I thought it was such a good idea, and immediately sent off my application.
Could you tell us a little about the charity you’ve been matched with and your role in helping them?
I've been matched with Street Games, a charity that harnesses the power of sport to create positive change in the lives of disadvantaged young people across the UK. Many local organisations who Street Games work with are doing an amazing job in keeping young people active during lockdown, and my role is to monitor and amplify these stories on social media as part of their #SportHelps campaign. Since working with the charity I have also started looking at their wider social activity and have begun to put together a weekly content calendar for their Instagram page. Seeing the work that a lot of youth organisations are doing in their community has been so uplifting during this strange time; it's honestly a pleasure logging on every day, getting to know the familiar faces and sharing things that might inspire other people.
Which new skills has this experience given you?
Ordinarily I manage projects with the support of multiple agency departments who will look after graphic design, video editing and copywriting. This experience has allowed me to get creative and think about different ways to post engaging content with my own skills, plus I can use the analytics to see what’s working in real-time.
What impact do you feel it’s had on your experience of being Furloughed, and are you likely to continue volunteering after it ends?
Furlonteering is not only really fun, but it has given my days the structure that I was missing. This has had a massive impact on my mental health as I’ve found the work to be very rewarding and even though I technically have less spare time than before (I volunteer about an hour a day on average), the time I do have feels more valuable. I'd definitely like to continue volunteering beyond COVID-19, and I'm also considering a 'career pivot' into the charity sector once life returns to normal.
Could you give any advice or tips to other people considering signing up to Furlonteer?
I would say, get involved! The current climate has been tough on charities and volunteering our time takes the pressure off them a little, even if it's only a few hours a week. My main tip is to keep a clear channel of communication (eg. we have a WhatsApp group and a weekly call) so any questions or comments can be talked through easily as a team.