The team at Drummond Bridge is closely following the journeys of our Senior Procurement network to establish how they are helping others, and channelling their energy and skills, whilst balancing the life challenges that COVID 19 has created. 

It is clear that many people in our professional network are keen to offer more help, volunteer, get to the frontline, and to be on hand to support those who are struggling, but are unsure where to start.

Here we speak to Procurement Leader, Martin Bowden MCIPS, who holds over 20 years’ experience in senior leadership procurement roles across financial services, central government, and manufacturing and we are delighted to share his advice on why volunteering is so rewarding and how to proactively get involved with your community. He also gives an insight on his own experiences to date.

The benefits of people currently on furlough choosing to volunteer can include:

  • Taking action and using your skills to make a positive contribution can help maintain well-being and mental health and offer opportunities for personal development.
  • Voluntary organisations getting additional help from enthusiastic and talented people to help them provide community services and increase their impact in response to COVID-19.

Fortunately, volunteering is allowed and encouraged under the Government’s Job Retention scheme.  While Furloughed employees cannot undertake any work for their employer while on furlough, HMRC guidance specifically states that:

 “A furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work, if it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation. Your organisation can agree to find furloughed employees new work or volunteering opportunities whilst on furlough if this is in line with public health guidance”.

So, individuals can volunteer, and employers can encourage or arrange volunteering opportunities for furloughed employees without impacting their eligibility for support from the Government’s Job Retention scheme.

You can find out more about the HMRC Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

What You Can Do to Help

Individuals on Furlough:

  • Seek opportunities to volunteer in a personal capacity.
  • Share information on volunteering with people you know who (especially other people who are currently on furlough).
  • Explore with your employer the potential for team volunteering with other furloughed colleagues.


  • Share information on volunteering with staff who are on furlough and encourage / enable them to participate.
  • Be supportive of requests from furloughed staff wishing to undertake volunteering.
  • Seek and explore, with your furloughed staff, opportunities for team-based volunteering that you can help to facilitate.

It goes without saying that all volunteering must be undertaken in line with public health guidance. The lockdown has impacted the way in which many charities are able to operate, however they continue to rely on volunteers so there are lots of opportunities for you to help.


Insights on Volunteering

Martin volunteers as a Trustee of a small charity in Edinburgh and in recent weeks has also been volunteering as a driver with another organisation, helping deliver meals and food to people across the city.  Martin shares some of his personal insights on volunteering.

Why volunteer now?

As a result of the Coronavirus many charities are experiencing unprecedented demand for their services and all charities are having to adapt to the challenges of the Lockdown and the changed environment that lies beyond. In response, a lot of charities are looking for new volunteers who can help them now.  In terms of our individual wellness during lockdown, volunteering is a positive action you can take that can contribute to your own personal well-being – feeling that you are helping someone, even in a small way, can be a source of energy.

Advice on finding a volunteering opportunity

There are lots of volunteering opportunities out there – the sources listed below are a good start and have lots of information. In terms of ‘what’ you do I would suggest keeping an open mind and being flexible and willing to help however you can.  It is also worth remembering that a small contribution providing an extra pair of hands at this busy time could be valued more than you might expect.

It can take a little bit of effort to find the right opportunity and ‘get going’ – many charities are very busy at the moment and on-boarding new volunteers is only one of the priorities they are juggling – so if you don’t find something immediately keep going until you find the right opportunity for you.

Volunteering – the Benefits

I enjoy helping other people and I also really value the diversity of experience that volunteering can provide. The importance of diversity is increasingly recognised in the workplace and includes being aware of and interested in different perspectives.  I think that broadening your exposure to a wider range of situations really helps with this – volunteering is a great way to see and experience different perspectives, to meet new people and to learn how other organisations and sectors do things.

How to Find a Volunteering Opportunity

Good sources of further information and specific opportunities include:

Volunteer Edinburgh

Volunteer Glasgow

Volunteer Scotland

The Red Cross