5 virtual good deeds

How your laptop could be the key to helping others.

It’s National Volunteers’ Week from 1-7 June, which got us thinking; how can we give up our time to help others in a socially distant world?

Read on for five of our favourite ideas…

Count seals
Zooniverse is a great source of volunteering opportunities and one of our favourites is Seal Watch. The mammals are a useful indicator of the health of our oceans, but difficult to monitor. By counting their numbers on popular beaches through time-lapse videos and drone photographs, the team behind the initiative hope to gain a better understanding of breeding habits and learn more about pup mortality. Simply volunteer to start tagging.

Chat to someone in a crisis
Shout relies on the help of volunteers to provide a text service for anyone facing a crisis, anytime, anywhere. All you need is a computer and internet connection to reassure others at their time of need. Participants are trained in active listening, collaborative problem solving and safety planning and asked to commit between two to four hours per week, to complete a total of 200 hours of support. Even Prince William is a volunteer.

Share your freelancer skills
There are plenty of opportunities to put your professional skills to use for a worthy cause. Catchafire is an online platform that pairs experts with organisations in need. Let them know about your experience and spare time and the matchmaking service will arrange an interview between both parties to find the perfect fit for everybody. The UN also offer opportunities for a wide range of international projects.

Transcribe science history
Project PHaEDRA, or Preserving Harvard Early Data and Research in Astronomy does exactly what it says on the tin. However, the team need a little help to get the job done. Their aim is to catalogue, digitalise and transcribe over 2,500 notebooks produced by female scientists at the Harvard College Observatory. The mammoth task will make 100 years of astronomical observations accessible to a modern audience.

Be someone else’s eyes
Be My Eyes is an app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers to help with everyday problems. After downloading the software, you’re asked whether you’re looking for help or if you can offer support for somebody else before starting a video call. You could be a few clicks from helping someone find an expiry date, distinguish colours or read much-needed instructions.

Image credits simonapilolla via iStock, Chainarong Prasertthai via iStock, Nature, food, landscape, travel via iStock