Most people know that volunteering ‘looks good on your CV’ but there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s a chance to improve your own wellbeing, as well as having a positive impact on others. You can volunteer to do all sorts of things, such as helping vulnerable or homeless people, working with youth groups, shopping and gardening for elderly people, something as simple as litter-picking, or you could even help to socialise rescue animals!
So, why volunteer?
Everyone has their own reason for volunteering. For some it’s about giving back to the community, and for others it’s about building new skills and confidence, gaining experience, or meeting new people.
Have you ever heard someone complain about employers not giving them a chance because of a lack of experience? It’s like the chicken and egg dilemma: how can you get a job without any experience, and how can you get experience if no one is willing to give you a job? This is where charities and voluntary work can come in.
Charities need to use every penny they receive wisely, so if you’re willing and eager to help, they’d love you to get involved and bring your skills to the table. It’s a great opportunity for you to work with and help improve the community while gaining invaluable experience which could put you above a competitor in the job market.
Alongside this, a study in 2014 by the Citizens Advice Bureau found that 80 per cent of volunteers said volunteering had a positive effect on their health. Sixty per cent said they felt less stressed as a result of volunteering.
Where can I find out more about volunteering?
There are so many voluntary organisations out there that you’re bound to find something you’re passionate about. Examples of this could be global or national charities, or local charities either based near to your home town, or to where you’ll be studying at uni. See the useful links to the right for some starting points to look for opportunities.
Also, check with your uni’s students’ union – they will often work with the local community on volunteering projects and may even organise their own volunteering week. Solent’s SU has produced a top five reasons to volunteer – have a read!
Take your volunteering further afield
But volunteering doesn’t just have to take place on your doorstep – there are many opportunities abroad too. Here’s what Solent student, Stephen Ketteringham, had to say about his volunteering experience abroad:
“I studied BA (Hons) Sport Coaching and Development and now I’m now studying an MA in Sport Development and Management so I decided to volunteer with Travel Teacher in Fiji. The location made it stand out, but being able to volunteer in a local school and live in a local village was incredible.
Coming from a coaching/teaching background, the opportunity appealed to me as something I could apply myself to and benefit from, as it was in a completely new and diverse environment.
The two-week experience involved teaching most mornings with full control over the session and the students, which was a great experience, as the school environment is so much more relaxed than it is in the UK. The students were really excited for us to be there teaching them and we built a great rapport with them.”
“We took part in a variety of other activities from painting the front of the school to exploring Fiji - we even went to the Cloud 9 floating bar!
The whole experience definitely opened my eyes to see how other populations live and allowed me to gain confidence, applying my skills that I’d learnt in university. If anyone is thinking about volunteering abroad, I’d definitely recommend it - it’s a great all-round experience!”
Tasks for this week:
- Research local charities near to where you live or near your chosen uni for opportunities
- Take a look at our useful links, above, for organisations that can arrange volunteering opportunities, both in the UK and overseas.