Happy new year!

Well, we made it through 2020. Is anyone missing last year? No, thought not.

I can’t recall an end of year when so much hope, desire and aspiration was directed to the next twelve months. With attention so future focused some big questions will be asked. What do we want our country to be like now we’re properly outside the EU? As the pandemic (hopefully) subsides, how do we want our society to change? What lessons do we want to learn from the last year? What will our ‘new normal’ look like?

It’s worth reflecting on these words from Seth Godin (published on his blog on 1 September last year):

“We’ve got a deep-seated desire for things to go back to normal, the way we were used to. But this, this moment of ours is now normal. For now. And then, there will be another normal. There is no “the new normal”. Because that’s definitive. There’s simply the normal of now.”

Whilst some of our attention as leaders of volunteer engagement should absolutely be future focused, reflecting on what this time of global upheaval and change will mean for volunteering and our organisations, we also need to pay attention to now. To the opportunities of the present. To how our volunteers feel in the moment. To the challenges of today. To ensuring we have the energy and resolve to face tomorrow.

To focus on the now, I am drawing on the year gone for inspiration as 2021 begins.

I’m still in awe at the outpouring of compassion and care so many people demonstrated in 2020. Everyday people offering help to those affected by the pandemic during the UK’s lockdown. Volunteering (even if it wasn’t always called that) became essential, not a second tier way of doing things by incompetent amateurs out to take people’s jobs (as volunteering is all too often viewed by too many). The first lockdown made us a society and a community once again, not an economy populated by units of ever more production to feed the machine.

I look back in pride at our profession.

At leaders of volunteer engagement who overnight faced and embraced many of changes we thought we weren’t going to have to deal with for a few more years: seismic demographic shifts; rapid adoption of technology; a switch to remote and flexible volunteering; the list goes on.

At the passion and commitment of those Volunteer Managers who spent weeks on furlough, concerned about their volunteers and desperate to support them despite not being allowed to.

At the collaboration that enabled an amazing Volunteers’ Week 2020 to happen in England.

As a new year begins we should remember with pride what we achieved in 2020. If we survived and thrived in spite of everything the last twelve months threw at us then we can face whatever comes our way the year(s) ahead with confidence – today and one day at a time.

Here’s to a great 2021.

Find out more about Rob and Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd on the website.

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One thought on “A new year message for 2021

  1. Happy New Year Rob and I look forward to more of your writings and wisdom. In my eyes, the very fabric of society is itself under threat. I believe your fine country was sold a lie that plunged you out of the EU and into an abyss. But as they say- that’s democracy for you. America is a basket case right now with the so called Leader of the Free World unable or unwilling to protect its congress and senate. A worldwide pandemic continues to run rife around the world emboldened by conspiracy Covidiots and a large section of a population unable or unwilling to listen to the science. And all but forgotten in the latter months of 2020 is the existential threat of climate change. What hope there, when science is so readily scorned and doubted enabled by right wing governments across the globe who are in the pockets of their conglomerates in fossil fuel.
    Volunteers as activists will shape history and our future. Black Live Matter volunteers will not give up their fight. They have now seen the inequity in protest itself. If you are black you are gassed and beaten with batons. Extinction Rebellion will harvest a new generation of youth volunteers. They will take more action despite being despised by the Murdoch media and politicians. These volunteers and those who need to fight fascism will be the volunteers of the next ten years. It is the type of volunteering that will endanger themselves for the good of our planet.
    Other volunteering will continue as normal at the coal face. More and more will be needed to help with climate change induced disasters from bushfires to floods and hurricanes to cyclones.
    And while I do not paint a rosy picture of the future I am proud of the emergence of this type of volunteer.
    Because when the world needs them most, volunteers will stand up and fight for her.


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