Since its founding, the volunteer centre has responded to 3,000 requests for help from both individuals and institutions. Currently, more than 5,000 volunteers willing to offer their time or knowledge to those in need of help have registered using the MUNI HELPS mobile app.
One such volunteer is Věra Zlevorová, a bachelor’s student in the Healthcare Specialization programme at the MU Faculty of Sports Studies. She began volunteering in the autumn of last year thanks to MUNI HELPS. “Studying at university really jump-started my volunteer activities. I had finished secondary school, and it was the right time. To anyone out there hesitating, I say ‘Don’t hesitate’. Don’t be afraid that as a volunteer you will just be standing around, waiting by the door, or that you will be useless. There is always work that needs to be done. I lucked out and found a great team of volunteers. When I have the time again between going to class and studying, I won’t hesitate to go back to help at the same department,” says Věra, who worked at an in-patient department at St. Anne’s University Hospital Brno.
The volunteer centre was founded on the initiative of Masaryk University’s rector, Martin Bareš, who called upon the MU community to help out and contribute to battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The centre has been in operation for one year already. “We are still here, and Masaryk University’s volunteer centre is still actively connecting volunteers with people who need help. The situation is currently the worst it has been since the start of the pandemic, so now people at the highest risk should stay at home and make use of help if they need it,” says Rector Bareš.
The centre has been organizing volunteer activities non-stop since last March. During the first wave of the epidemic in the spring, more than 3,240 students and university employees and 1,392 volunteers from the public registered in the centre’s database. Since its founding, the centre has responded to 2,500 requests for help from both individuals and institutions.
“When we were starting out, we had no idea what we would accomplish. We have really done a lot, and that’s only thanks to our hard-working volunteers. When we received our first request for help from a facility where infections had occurred, we thought of the volunteers who decided to help out as heroes. Since then, dozens of similar facilities have turned to us, and we have sent to them hundreds of volunteers. But that doesn’t make them any less heroic,” says the head of MU’s External Relations and Marketing Division, Jiří Uher.
The centre took a great leap forward when the MUNI HELPS mobile app was launched. “The app connects people who need help with people willing to offer it. We are constantly updating and improving it. A web version will soon be up and running, so the app will be accessible from both mobile phones and computers,” says Barbora Hauserová, the centre’s manager.
Volunteers are working on the frontlines of the pandemic, that is, in medical and social care facilities; they are performing contact tracing, teaching, tutoring, and babysitting the children of healthcare workers. They are also answering people’s legal questions in addition to shopping for and delivering medicine to senior citizens and the needy, walking pets, and delivering protective gear and disinfectant. They also helped last year when hackers attacked University Hospital Brno.
In recent weeks, volunteers have been actively helping out, or getting ready to help out, in vaccination centres throughout the South Moravia Region.