Written by: Amy Schofield
Anyone thinking about volunteering will hear this from one of their friends at some point…
Actually, there are quite a few reasons to volunteer, and not all of them are altruistic:
Volunteering can open up your social life by giving you the chance to work with and meet new people and it can also enhance your own well being and life satisfaction, it now being well recognised that volunteering helps counter social isolation and depression.
No matter where you live, there should be some organisation local to you that can use your skills. Even though you might not think that you have anything much to offer, you never know what personal skills that you take for granted might be in demand from an organisation asking for volunteers.
It might be that you find it easy to talk to people, or that you’re a whizz kid with finances and figures – or maybe you could sell ice to the Intuits. All your skills recognised or unrecognised can be used as a volunteer.
Wide range of volunteering roles available
Volunteering can be as wide ranging as helping a person with their gardening or cooking to becoming an adviser at the Citizens Advice Bureau; there really is a huge diversity of jobs out there that rely purely on the volunteer.
Reimbursements and grievances
Often charities will reimburse your out-of-pocket expenses like travel to and from the workplace so you need not worry about having to indirectly donate to the charity when you’re hard up yourself. They will also have to adhere to any workplace legislation, like Health and Safety, so you’ll have rights even as a humble volunteer.
Gain new skills
Some organisations will certify you in some of the new skills you can learn with them, whilst others will offer training so that you fulfil the expected tasks; these certificates and new skills can enhance your CV or just sit proudly on your office wall as a measurement of your achievement.
Possible job opportunities
Of course there is always the distinct possibility that you will be in the right place at the right time when a job within that organisation comes up. In the current job market that can be a valuable advantage over the other applicants.
Hours to suit
The other side to volunteering is that you can suit your hours and lifestyle to your own needs. So, for instance if you need to collect children from school or you do a part time job then the charity or organisation will fit your life roles into their needs. They need you and this is one of the other factors in becoming a volunteer: You are not a wage slave and neither are you ignored – indeed, you’ll be very much appreciated for what you do.
You don’t have to be unemployed to become a volunteer either; some employers encourage their employees to help out in the local community in a voluntary capacity. Once again the volunteer can enhance their own skill set by being trained to do a specific role or function for the voluntary organisation.
They need you!
So the next time you sit down with a cup of coffee after dropping the children off at school and reach for the TV remote on autopilot, remind yourself that someone out there could do with your help and your skills as a volunteer.
There will always be a place found for you in a voluntary capacity in one of the thousands of diverse charities and organisations throughout the UK.
Get busy, go and volunteer. After all, happiness can come from the strangest of places.
To get started visit volunteering.org.uk, a great site that will help you become a volunteer and has fact sheets to clarify your role and rights when becoming a volunteer.