Volunteer – Bhagti Patel
Bhagti Patel a paralegal from Clyde & Co LLP volunteered at the National Emergencies Trust from May 2020, providing invaluable support to the Coronavirus Appeal. Here she reflects on her experiences.
Did your job change due to Covid-19? How did that feel?
I was furloughed in May but also started volunteering with the National Emergencies Trust in May which was great timing.
Sitting at my office desk was very quickly replaced with sitting on my bed with my laptop, curtains shut to prevent the glare of the summer sun reflecting on my laptop screen and turning me into a shadow on the several zoom calls that had suddenly become my main form of professional interaction.
My role with NET was a lot more fast-paced than my ‘normal’ job, I had a lot more responsibility and as it is a much smaller organisation there is a lot more internal communication which was great especially during lockdown as it very quickly made me feel like part of the team.
I have learned a lot about grant giving and the amount of work , thought and effort that all the different individuals across charities and other organisations put into planning, presenting and assessing grant proposals. It’s amazing how quickly we all came together to try to help individuals in the UK during this difficult and uncertain time and it just goes to show that where there is a will, there is a way.
What’s been challenging?
Having that distinction between work and home was more difficult that I thought it would be.
Once I’m in my ‘zone’ it’s difficult for me to pull myself away from my work. When you’re in the office you have to stop working at some point to commute back home but at home the ‘five more minutes’ very quickly turns into several hours.
The uncertainty about the virus, about work, about how our lives will be impacted – this was most challenging before the lockdown was in place. I know others who have felt differently, but the safety of having more control over my environment and who I was exposed to, provided a bit of comfort.
What was most rewarding?
Time. It’s amazing how much time is saved when you don’t have to commute to work. I’ve had more time to spend catching up with family and friends and to explore and engage in different hobbies. I’ve had the chance to take advantage of the warm weather and have done a lot of gardening – with my cousins, I put together a greenhouse in which I now have tomato, potato, onion, green onion, lemongrass and several herb plants growing!
What kept you going through all this?
I wanted to do as much as I could to help. At our weekly meetings, the team would share stories of the beneficiaries we were helping – hearing about the difference our work was making, such as putting food on the table of thousands of families every week, motivated to put in as much effort as I could so that our efforts to provide emergency relief could reach even more people.