Written by: Amy Schofield
People choose to become volunteers for many different reasons. Some may want to “give something back” to an organisation that helped them or a loved one. For some, it’s a chance to become more involved in their local community. Many choose volunteering to make a difference to disadvantaged people’s lives. Volunteering also offers the chance for people to develop useful new skills, enhance existing ones and feel valued as part of a team.
Whatever the motivation, volunteering is challenging, rewarding and shines a light of altruism in sometimes dark world.
Enhance your CV
Volunteering can be an effective route into employment. Adding volunteering experience to your CV can demonstrate commitment, the willingness to undertake a challenge, and the gaining of valuable skills and even qualifications.
Whether you’re just starting out in your career, coming back after a break, or just fancy a career change, volunteering offers the opportunity to find a fresh new career path.
Volunteering can boost your employment prospects by helping you to:
- Develop new skills and boost existing ones
- Gain valuable life and employment experience
- Gain an accreditation or vocational qualification
- Benefit others by sharing your skills.
Get involved in your local community
For many people, volunteering gives them the chance to get involved in making things better in their local community. From helping to create a community allotment to volunteering at your local youth group, there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference right outside your own doorstep.
There are many social benefits to volunteering, including:
- Meeting new people.
- Building your self-confidence.
- Getting to know your local community.
- Sharing and exchanging skills with others.
Volunteering is good for you!
Volunteering can have a positive impact on your health. From the benefits of fresh air and exercise that volunteering for work in the great outdoors can give you, to the boost to self-confidence that volunteering to care for others can do for you, volunteering has many health benefits, both physical and emotional.
What type of volunteer role is right for you?
There are countless ways to get involved with volunteering. Identify your strengths, skills and passions and use those as a starting point. However, if you fancy trying something completely new and breaking out of a rut, choosing a volunteering role that challenges you can be the perfect way to find out new things about yourself. You might even find you’re great at something you wouldn’t have previously touched with a bargepole!
Here’s just a selection of volunteering sectors to consider:
Environmental and conservation: The Woodland Trust offers fantastic opportunities for you to get your wellies on and get involved in preserving our beautiful woodlands, while the Federationof City Farms and Community Gardens are locally based projects which depend on volunteers to support them in working to enhance city life with nature. Friends of The Earth campaigns for the protection of the environment and has regional offices and a network of over 250 local groups, all of which rely on volunteer help.
Animal welfare: Put your love of animals to good use by volunteering to help animals in need or distress. The PDSA is Britain’s leading veterinary charity and offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities throughout the country. Or help our feathered friends by volunteering with the RSPB, which also offers a whole spectrum of volunteering opportunities for bird lovers.
- Sport: Sporting volunteer roles include coaching, administration, refereeing, driving and management. Sport England offers Sports Gateways, an online database of local and national sporting contacts to get you started on your volunteering journey.
- Children and young people: The Scout Association provides volunteering opportunities to suit lots of people with different skills, while Youth Action, an award winning young people’s charity, offers many opportunities to volunteer and make a difference to the lives of young people.
- Community action: The National Association for Volunteering and Community Action (NAVCA) has a long list of vacancies for volunteers and runs regular “introduction to volunteering” sessions.
- Arts and heritage: Whatever area of the arts you are interested in, the Voluntary Arts Network (VAN) can provide you with the contact details. Roles vary from administration to fundraising to directing and performing. The National Trust also offers many volunteering opportunities to those interested in preserving our heritage.
Whatever sort of volunteering interests you, there’s no better time than now to start giving something back, develop new skills, and challenge yourself to do more than you thought possible.