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Volunteers’ Week runs from 1-7th June. It is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.

The coronavirus has impacted the volunteer work that the Studio 24 team do in their free time in many ways. In some cases it has made volunteering more challenging, but in other ways it has presented opportunities for new ways to work.

Emma and the Elizabeth Coteman Fund

Emma is a founder and trustee of the Elizabeth Coteman Fund. The EC Fund is a small, local charity supporting people who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  One of the biggest challenges facing the charity is having to cancel all their fundraising activities, which has reduced their income considerably. Demand for the charity’s services are still high and they are committed to making grants to help people financially – and for many people at this time financial support is a lifeline.

The charity also provides personal and emotional support, normally face to face. Because of social distancing that support is now by telephone. Although this is not the way the charity prefers to work, crucially the support is still there for people who need it.

Simon and the Cambridge Film Festival

The entertainment sector will be one of the last sectors to return to normality. This has hit the Cambridge Film Festival hard. Simon is a trustee of the Cambridge Film Trust, the charity that runs the festival. With physical distancing in place it is expected to be impossible to run a normal film festival later this year.

Instead, Simon and the other trustees are looking at ways to take the festival online through streaming video platforms. Simon is also looking at ways to support social interaction through live Q&As and the festival has a programmer attending Cannes Online later in June. This year is the 40th anniversary of the Cambridge Film Festival and thanks to the hard work of volunteers the show will go on!

Kate and the Cherry Hinton Festival

In the same vein, Kate has also had to rethink how to produce her local community festival – the Cherry Hinton Festival. With the effects of lockdown affecting mental health, the need for an event that allows people to socialise and which re-establishes community connections is really important. Instead of the big celebration day that attracts 5000 people, Kate and the festival team are looking at running a mixture of online and small live events where people can physically distance, but feel socially connected.

Julia and Playing Out

Julia has been working with Cambridge City Council on the Playing Out scheme. Julia and other organisers were finding that the application process was formal and difficult to complete. It was discouraging community groups from applying. With the cancelation of all the summer events in the city, the Highways Agency have had time and opportunity to make improvements to the application form based on Julia’s recommendations.

Once lockdown is over, Julia predicts that there will be lots of applications for street parties. Neighbours will want to celebrate together as soon as they can. Thanks to Julia’s help, applying to close the street will be much easier.

During lockdown, the Studio 24 team have not only had to get used to working from home and home-schooling their children, they have also been working on their volunteer projects to make connections and build community spirit. Thanks to them and to all the UK volunteers this week.