Volunteers without Tears - why less is sometimes more

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Volunteers can do a fantastic job. However, helping is not always straightforward. This film tries to illustrate how useful training, guidelines and structure can be for people who are new to volunteering and who may find themselves dealing with difficult situations. 



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Volunteers without Tears

Let’s be frank, it’s an unglamorous message: Volunteers can do a fantastic job. However, in the time of COVID-19, helping is not always straightforward.

Over the last ten days a small group of volunteers, each working remotely, has conceived, written, filmed, edited and released a five-minute training film, Volunteers without Tears. The film illustrates that training, guidelines and structure can be useful for people who are new to volunteering and who may find themselves dealing with potentially difficult situations.


Volunteers without Tears was co-ordinated by Beverley Costa from The Pasalo Project . Beverley says “The message of lockdown is STAY AT HOME. It is a passive response. No wonder so many people have wanted to volunteer. It makes you feel active. However, sometimes in our enthusiasm to be active, we may do too much. And what begins as help, ends as hindrance. The invisible pull of compassion can push you over the limits.


Beverley Costa, a psychotherapist, set up Mothertongue, a culturally and linguistically sensitive therapeutic support service for people from black and minority ethnic communities. In 2008, Mothertongue won the Award for Excellence in the Practice of Counselling and Psychotherapy from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and in 2009, The Queen’s Award for Volunteering. Beverley founded the Pasalo Project in 2017, to share the learning from Mothertongue. Beverley is a Senior Practitioner Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London.


Volunteers without Tears was written by scriptwriter Gillian Quickenden. Gillian says “When Beverley told me she had hit a brick wall trying to create a resource for new volunteers, I suggested having a go at writing a short play instead. 10 days later that play became a film. I had been wondering how I might use my skills to make a contribution in the time of Covid-19. I never imagined I would write a play about volunteering.”

The volunteer is played by Gabriele Lombardo. Gabriele trained with Italian theatre company Quelli Di Grock in his hometown, Milan, before his training at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in Acting: Collaborative and Devised Theatre. He has worked with directors Sinéad Rushe (Out of Inc), John Wright (Told by an Idiot), Grainné Byrne (Scarlet Theatre), Dominic Rouse (Concerned Architect) and Nancy Meckler and Catherine Alexander (Complicité), as well as collaborating with Movement Directors Kate Flatt (Les Misérables), Neil Bettles (Frantic Assembly) and Elayce Ismail. Work includes Eastenders (BBC One), Pioneer (Curious Directive – Edinburgh Fringe/Winner of The Scotsman's Fringe First Award 2014), and Fungus the Bogeyman (Sky One, movement specialist).


St. John O’Rourke, who edited the film says “I was pleased to be asked to work on the short film. It is very important at the moment and made a pleasurable change from editing Call the Midwife.”


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