I have been a volunteer on and off for various causes since I was about sixteen. I love the good feeling volunteering gives me and knowing that I managed to do my part in some small way for society. I have spent time helping my local youth club, fund-raising for my local hospital, working in charity shops both serving customers and sorting stock in the back room, as a steward for a regional theatre, helping with administration for my local children’s centre and taking part in one off fund-raising events.
Reasons Why I Volunteer
• Enhance my CV: One of the reasons I first started volunteering as a teenager was to have something to put on my CV as work experience. Even now when I have paid work experience, volunteer work means my CV stays up to date, with current experience in the work place. It shows how keen I am to work right now. It also makes me look like a nice person that people would want to work with.
• Get a Job Reference: A lot of job applications ask for a work place reference, which is hard to give when you have never worked before. However after volunteering I was able to use my manager as a reference.
• Gain Confidence: Volunteering has given me the confidence to apply for more kinds of jobs. It has helped me feel more confident in interviews and comfortable in a work environment. It has also given me self confidence in my abilities proving to myself and others that I can work and actually do a good job despite having various disability issues.
• Skills: I have learnt a lot of new skills thanks to volunteering. Also it helps me keep skills I have developed in the work place up-to-date.
• Help with Job Interviews: Volunteer work helps give me real work place experiences to talk about in job interviews.
• Gets Me Out/ Pass the Time: Unemployment can be very boring and tedious at times. Volunteering gives me a reason to get out of bed and leave the house some days. It also helps fill the time in a more interesting way than sitting around at home often does.
• Be Part of my Local Community: Volunteering makes me feel a part of something, like I am joining in with society and being of use to my local community. It helps make me feel less isolated.
• Make Friends: I get to meet new people and make friends who live locally.
• Pride in Myself: As someone on benefits without paying work, I have been accused of sponging off society and being lazy. At least with volunteer work I can say I do something with my life and can prove I am not just being lazy. Also it helps me feel like I sort of ‘earn’ my benefits in some small way and that I have dignity.
• Helping Others: Most importantly when I volunteer I like to be helping a charity or cause that I truly believe in. It is no good volunteering my time for a cause I do not care about as I will do the work less well and not enjoy myself so much. I often like to help with smaller local causes as I can see the effect my work has directly on my local community.
There are many types of jobs you can do as a volunteer, so no matter what your skills or interests there is likely to be a job out there for you. Volunteer roles can include:
• Fund-raising: Either as a one off event such as being sponsored to do something, or in a charity shop.
• Supporting People/ Befriending: One on one support for vulnerable people such as the elderly or special needs. Sometimes this can include helping people to eat meals when in hospital or to have someone to go out to places with. It can be as simple as just checking up on someone and being there so they are less lonely.
• Administration Support: Helping a charity with office based jobs.
• Teaching: Sharing your skills with others either one on one or a group.
• Supporting Events: Helping at community events or fund-raising events with things like first aid, car park attendance, serving drinks, or setting up stalls.
• Driving: Helping people to go places such as hospital transport and community transport. Collecting and delivering furniture for charity shops.
• Handy Person/ Gardening: Helping elderly or disabled people with basic DIY tasks such as small repairs, safety measures like fitting rails and smoke alarms and security measures. Sometimes help with gardening maybe required such as mowing the lawn or cutting back hedges.
• Giving Advice: Either face to face or by telephone for charities such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK or Sure Start Children’s Centres.
I would highly recommend volunteering to anyone. You can take it up as a regular thing like I do helping two charities one afternoon a week each or if you do andot have as much time to spare you could take part in a one off event. I guarantee that you will gain from doing it in some way.
Links to find a local volunteer job near you or learn more about volunteering:
Do-it Helps link you to volunteer jobs using a simple online form
Community and Voluntary Services Can offer you advice on volunteering and link you to local places looking for people to help. They can do this on the phone or face to face in a volunteer centre and some Volunteer Centres also have online links.
http://www.volunteernow.co.uk/ Another site to link you to volunteer jobs, also has advice pages about volunteering