Volunteers' Week: University of Northampton applauds those who gave their time during coronavirus lockdown

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"It’s a real mood lifter for all; I can’t recommend a bit of volunteering enough”

The University of Northampton is celebrating its workers who have come to the country's aid during the coronavirus crisis for Volunteers' Week 2020.

Library and learning service environment assistant John Chilton signed up to support Northampton Hope Centre last year and has not let the lockdown stop him.

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He has spent two mornings each week during the pandemic delivering food parcels to people living in food poverty in Northampton.

University of Northampton library and learning service environment assistant John Chilton has been delivering food boxes for Northampton Hope CentreUniversity of Northampton library and learning service environment assistant John Chilton has been delivering food boxes for Northampton Hope Centre
University of Northampton library and learning service environment assistant John Chilton has been delivering food boxes for Northampton Hope Centre | other

“It’s been a real privilege to do this and is a win-win solution for getting through some tough times," he said.

"Firstly, I’m helping others who are in the most need. Secondly – something I’ve really enjoyed – I’m getting out of the house to talk with people, albeit from a safe social distance.

“The deliveries I’ve been making can be the difference for some people between eating for the week and going without.

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"Some are single, perhaps old and feeling lonely and look forward to the delivery as I may be the only person they speak to all week.

University of Northampton psychology and health student Samantha Hughes has been providing free online yoga sessions during the pandemicUniversity of Northampton psychology and health student Samantha Hughes has been providing free online yoga sessions during the pandemic
University of Northampton psychology and health student Samantha Hughes has been providing free online yoga sessions during the pandemic | other

“I’ve had some really lovely comments from people and I always stop for a longer chat as it brightens their day and mine.

"It’s a real mood lifter for all; I can’t recommend a bit of volunteering enough.”

Another staff member who has been doing her bit for a good cause is human resources assistant Jagruti Patel.

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She is a coordinator for Asha Deep, a county-wide charity set up to help get food and other wellbeing services and support to vulnerable or isolated members of the Asian community.

Her role has been to set up all of the services for Northampton, recruiting and training volunteers, processing referrals, managing fundraising initiatives and coordinating all of the food donations.

They are planning to deliver upwards of 60 meals a week in Northampton and are now in the process of developing the wellbeing side of the project.

Psychology lecturer Katere ‘Kati’ Pourseied has been offering free online sessions through her consultancy about stress, emotion regulation, stages of grief, resilience, mindset and parenting, parental guilt to those in self-isolation.

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Psychology and health student Samantha Hughes is in the final year of her degree and is a qualified yoga instructor.

She has been providing free, online yoga classes for people wanting to calm and destress the mind and body during lockdown, or maintain their physical and mental well-being.

While executive officer Nick Allen was part of the hundreds of thousands of altruists nationwide who answered the NHS’s original call for a ‘volunteer army’.

“Just signing up to be a volunteer for the health service was hugely positive because it sent out a clear signal that a lot of people were on stand-by to support their local community," he said.

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“Family members of mine who signed up when I did have subsequently been recruited to support elderly people through a local group rather than the national scheme.

"For myself, I’ll continue to be ‘on call’ until coronavirus is safely behind us.”

The university is also looking for volunteers to help Scrubs Up For Northants NHS – a voluntary group that supplies non-surgical scrubs to NHS staff in the county.

Volunteers are needed to iron material, supplied by the university - dyed material will need ironing before cutting, cut out scrub sets in sizes 3XL and 4XL, and sew. To get involved, email [email protected].