A message from Sahaf, our Community Development and Partnerships lead, on Volunteers’ Week
In this time of uncertainty, our volunteers are even more vital to the continuation of our work. At Gendered Intelligence, we see volunteering both as a way to help us deliver our services, but also as a service in and of itself. It’s a tool that helps us empower trans people. It allows for us to provide community members with new skills and experience, and to create spaces for trans people to meet people and make friends. Both aspects are needed now more than ever.
Like all charities, the pandemic has had an impact on our organisation. But our volunteers have been a major lifeline. In April alone, our volunteers donated 30% more time to us than the monthly average. This was in addition to taking extra time to find their way around new software that we’re using for our remote service delivery. We also received so many new volunteer applications that we ran two inductions. We usually run an induction every other month so that’s a fourfold increase in the number of new applications!
But, we don’t just see volunteering as a means for our staff to get additional support delivering their work. We’re currently looking to expand our provision for adult trans people with a new area of work focused on community development and volunteering will be a key tool in this work. Our first community development project, GIANTS, was launched a week after the UK lockdown came into effect. GIANTS provides a group of volunteers with training on campaigning and messaging skills, along with continued peer and organisational support. Our GIANTS will then work within their communities, forming relationships and advocating for change, to create more welcoming spaces for trans people across the UK.
After a two-month long recruitment period, our first cohort of 20 GIANTS will have their induction this Sunday. They’re an incredible group from across England with special focuses on trans inclusion within faith communities, in sport, in education as well as their local high streets. They will be self-organised and their work will be community-led, informed by their own knowledge and experiences of navigating these spaces everyday. As the largest trans-led organisation in the UK, we can provide our support and experience, but they will be the real change-makers as they know best what needs to change. We’re all very excited to see the amazing things they will accomplish.
As GIANTS has always been envisaged to be a project delivered remotely and online, it was crucial that we launched as planned. It was something positive and uplifting that we could share with our community in a time when hope was and is needed. As a trans-led organisation ourselves, we feel the impact of the current backlash on trans rights, as well as the effects of the pandemic, and we know how much hope and change is needed. Our work will always be driven by a desire and a need to improve the lives of trans people in the UK. And this would be much, much, harder without the support of our incredible volunteers.
So from all of us at GI, I want to convey our heartfelt gratitude to all of our volunteers who put in so many hours and do so much for us. Thank you!