Have you ever thought about doing some volunteering? If you have answered no to that question, then this article might just make you consider it. If you have thought about doing some volunteering but have just not go around to it, then this article might just have you out there looking for your perfect volunteering opportunity.
There are lots of benefits to be gained from volunteering. Okay the financial benefits don’t exist (you may get some help towards travel expenses from some charities or organisations) but the other rewards from volunteering can far outweigh being paid for the work you do.
Volunteering can come in all shapes and sizes and, in the UK, there are lots of different opportunities out there. Charities and local communities up and down the nation rely on volunteers so that they can continue to provide the benefits they offer.
Whatever type of volunteer work you choose to do, being a volunteer gives you the opportunity to give back to the community in some way. This could be to the benefit of people or animals – wherever your passion lies. And the beauty of volunteering is you can choose to do as few or as many hours as you like. It doesn’t need to consume your life. Just a couple of hours a week can benefit others and you can feel the benefits, too.
So, what are these benefits of volunteering that we are writing about? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should consider volunteering.
What Are The Benefits Of Being A Volunteer?
Volunteering means you can have fun and make new friends
Volunteering makes it easier to make new friends because you know you already have something in common – a common goal.
Whatever charity or organisation you are volunteering for, chances are you are there because it is a cause you are passionate about. Many of your fellow volunteers likely feel the same way so you have a good conversation point and you are all working towards a common goal.
If you are new to the area and you are not very good at just getting out there and socialising, volunteering can be your way in to making new friends or just talking to people. It can improve your confidence in striking up conversations and this can be brought forward in the future outside of the volunteering world.
Loneliness is now recognised in the UK as a serious health risk and volunteering can help ease loneliness in any age group. So, there you go: volunteering can reduce risks to your health and wellbeing by preventing you from feeling lonely!
Volunteering can be done anywhere
For some of you, you might have difficulty getting around because of illness or disability. Some of you may have difficulty leaving the house because you are a carer or you have young children, for example.
This doesn’t mean you can’t feel the benefits of volunteering. Because of today’s digital age, if you find it difficult to leave the home for whatever reason, you can still volunteer from your home. This could be in the form or sending emails or newsletters for the organisation you are helping. You could also write their blog for them or help out with some social media.
Get out into the great outdoors
If you are the type of person who hates to be cooped up indoors and you are always looking for a good excuse to be in the great outdoors, why not make volunteering your excuse. There are lots of charities and organisations where you can indulge your passion for the outdoors and give back at the same time, doing something useful and meaningful.
Whatever your outdoor pursuits, some ideas for volunteers who love to be outdoors could be sports events such as Parkrun, community gardens, working with animals, doing beach cleans or taking part in the marking of, and maintenance of, public footpaths.
Give as much or as little time as you like
The beauty of volunteering is that you can make it fit around your other commitments. It doesn’t have to take over your life. You can volunteer just two or three hours per week if you like and still feel the physical and mental benefits as well as boosting your skills and knowledge.
Volunteering is your opportunity to give back
People volunteer for lots of reasons. For some of you, volunteering can be your opportunity to give back.
It can be something that is very personal to you. A charity or organisation for example might have helped you out in some way. This could have been you, personally, or close friends or family. Because you are so grateful to that charity or organisation, volunteering for them can be your way of repaying their help in some way.
Volunteering can give you a break
Have you got a part time job or full time role that is making you feel stressed? Are you a carer or a parent who wants to wear a ‘different head’ for just a few hours, sometimes? Volunteering can give you this break and allow you to return home or to your work feeling refreshed.
Volunteering allows you to share
Have you got any skills that you feel are going to waste? Could these skills be used to benefit others? If so, why not look up some volunteering opportunities where you could pass on this knowledge and skill.
For some of you, you might be retired but feel you have some knowledge and skill you could pass on. Or you could be someone with a particular skill that you know would benefit others. Sharing your expertise can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Volunteering is good for your own wellbeing
Studies show that the more we give, the happier we feel. We all love to feel happy and volunteering could help with this because you are giving your time for the benefit of others. Volunteering can boost your self-esteem increase your confidence and reduce stress. And when stress is reduced, your immune system is strengthened. So, as well as being happier when volunteering, it can also make you healthier.
If you are someone who feels like they have become stuck in a rut and you need a way out of that rut volunteering can be one of the routes you can take to start giving you that sense of purpose and accomplishment. You can use it as a stepping stone to making other changes in your life because of the increased confidence you have.
Volunteering can help you to travel responsibly
Travel and tourism are fields that are increasingly in the news when it comes to carbon footprint and what we are doing to contribute to the places we are visiting. If you are passionate about responsible travel and sustainable travel then volunteering whilst you are travelling can help with this.
Around the UK, there are volunteer projects where you can be offered food and accommodation whilst working on outdoor projects in rural areas. This could be doing work such as clearing scrub and laying stones to maintain public footpaths or repairing stone walls and cairns.
Volunteering can help to make your local community a better place
And if you just want to be a part of making your local community a better place, then why not look around for local volunteering positions that will do just that.
The Employment Benefits of Volunteering
So far, the benefits of volunteering have been around health, happiness and wellbeing. But there are also many practical employment benefits to volunteering.
Being a volunteer boosts existing skills and develops new ones
If you have been out of the workplace for a while – perhaps because you have been a stay at home parent – volunteering can keep your skills up to date. Along with that, you could also develop new skills.
If you are looking to make yourself more employable in the future there are many benefits to volunteering. You could have the opportunity to gain practical experience in lots of the experiences and traits employers look for: working as part of a team, instances where you need to use your leadership skills or work under your own initiative, using your communication skills or developing IT skills relevant to your role.
Volunteering makes you more employable
When you are applying for part time jobs or even full time roles, as well as all of those transferable skills you have developed, employers will be impressed by the fact that you have volunteered. It demonstrates to them that you are proactive and are committed to work.
Because you chose to be a volunteer and give your time to benefit others, this also acts as a character reference for yourself.
Work part time and volunteer, too
Some people choose to work multiple part time jobs but you can also combine your part time role by also doing some volunteering, too. This can go towards helping you to learn a new role and build contacts for the future.
Volunteering could lead to a paid role
Some volunteering opportunities will be with organisations that also employ paid staff. Volunteering for these types of charities and organisations could lead to a paid employment opportunity in the future.
Volunteering boosts your CV
Yes, volunteering can get rid of those yawning CV gaps when it comes to applying for jobs. Again, this could be a good option for parents with young children who are looking to get back into the workplace. Your volunteer role fills in the CV gaps and shows employers that you have made the effort to keep your skills updated.
Volunteer work on your CV will also help you to stand out from the crowd when you are applying for competitive roles that attract many applicants. Employers like to see volunteering on your CV.
Volunteering can help you with a career change
If you are considering a career change, volunteering can be a perfect start to that process. Yes, you will learn new skills and boost your existing ones but one of the other benefits of volunteering is that it gives you the opportunity to dip your toes into the water in other sectors and fields of work.
You might have some jobs in mind that you would like to do. Volunteering in similar roles can confirm whether or not this could be the future career for you. When it comes to applying for roles in these areas, you will have some practical work experience to demonstrate to employers and, for some volunteer roles, you might also be awarded some qualifications or certification that you can take with you into your future career.
Is Volunteering The Activity For You?
Now you know some of the benefits to volunteering is it something that you would like to get involved in?
If so when you are getting started, don’t just launch into the first volunteer role that you come across. It might seem easy to do this but you also need to feel the benefits from your actions as well as the organisation that you are volunteering for. Volunteering shouldn’t be a chore but rather something that rewards you.
Think about why you want to volunteer and what you would like to be spending your time doing. Once you have a basic idea of this, you can search for relevant volunteer positions. For example, you are not going to relish being outdoors on a wet and windy day, doing a beach clean if you are someone with a passion for working indoors using IT.
Whatever your motives for wanting to be a volunteer, finding a volunteer role that suits you can be a life changing experience and give you the opportunity to be part of something you are truly passionate about.