Around 15 million people in the UK – or one in four of the population – volunteer on a regular monthly basis. Voluntary roles vary hugely, from home based roles answering email enquiries or working on a phone helpline, to regular shifts in charity shops or delivering services to all groups in society. Volunteering doesn’t have to mean giving up huge amounts of your time either as most modern charities have flexible programmes which allow people of any age and circumstance to help them out. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 is to undertake volunteering, then you’ll be pleased to discover there are many advantages to doing so.
Learn New Skills
Many people staff volunteering to boost their CV, or to help them learn new skills. The types of skills gained will depend on the exact role undertaken, but will usually include team work, customer service, time management or organisational skills. Some charities even offer formal training towards recognised qualifications.
Modern life can be isolating, and volunteering can open up a whole new friendship group. Having a regular commitment for volunteering gets you out of the house, mixing with all sorts of different people and contributing to the aims of the charity. Improved social skills and self-confidence is good for your mental wellbeing too, and can add structure and routine to your life.
Volunteering, and seeing the difference you are making through your efforts gives an enormous sense of pride and achievement, and boosts confidence. It also gives you the chance to try things you perhaps haven’t done before, and be proud of the work you are doing.
Working in a community-based charity which supports people or projects in your local area enhances people’s feelings of belonging to a community and helps them feel more integrated. It’s a great way of feeling as if you’re part of something, and if you’re new to an area a good way of getting to know the local people and area too.
Making a Difference
Perhaps the main reason for volunteering is people having strong feelings about the aims of the charity which they are supporting. If you’re thinking about volunteering, consider both what type of charity you are interested in supporting, and what skills you can offer. Your efforts could make life a lot better for people closer to your home, or internationally.
How Do I Find Out About Volunteering?
Have a look online through the various volunteer portals such as Do It, NCVO or Volunteer Scotland. Their websites allow you to search for opportunities based on your location, skills, or hours which you can offer. Alternatively, check the websites of charities which you are particularly interested in helping, and approach them directly. Most charities will ask you to complete an application form and provide referees before starting your placement, and depending on the role you might be asked to complete a DBS or PVG check if the work involves children or vulnerable adults. Procedures vary by charity, and are usually clearly stated on their website.