Volunteering is an activity which literally anyone can do and involves freely giving up your time to do something that benefits someone/something else such as the environment, charity or people in need etc. People may choose to volunteer for different reasons, either to give back to the community, make a difference to someone’s life or as an opportunity to develop new skills.
The benefits of volunteering
Connect to others and the wider community
There is a myriad of benefits to volunteering, chief among which is in that it is a great way to connect to other people and the local community. Helping out in the community can make a significant difference in the lives of all who are part of it especially around the festive period. Being out in the community and volunteering can afford you the chance to
- Become a part of the local community and interact with new people from all walks of life
- Help the environment
- Make a difference in the lives of others
- Help others who are in a less fortunate position.
- Give back to a charity/organization that has had an impact on your, or a loved one’s, life
- Connect with others and form new friendships
Improve your physical and mental health
For a large majority of people, volunteering can be a huge benefit to their general health. Having that regular social contact with other people in the role can have a huge effect on your psychological well-being, such as reducing and counteracting stress, anxiety, anger, depression and increasing levels of happiness in volunteers. Volunteering also has been found to increase physical health, especially roles which require physical exertion
Volunteering can also bring a huge boost to your self-confidence. Working alongside others, accomplishing tasks and goals, socializing regularly, helping people and being part of the local community can give you a sense of pride, increase your motivation to get out of bed in the morning and boost your self-esteem. All of this can make you feel better about yourself and view your life through a more positive lens.
It can also give you’re a renewed sense of purpose. Older people, who may have lost something in their life, whether it be their career or a loved one etc, can be given a renewed vigour and new direction in their life.
One of the biggest reasons, especially with younger people, to volunteer is to gain work experience and learn new skills. Most jobs require a degree of work experience. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain new skills, get experience, make new contacts and gain more self-esteem.
Volunteering therefore looks great on a CV, whether complimenting your current job or to fill in the gaps between employment. It allows you to stay up to date with any changes in working society and allows you to learn new skills that you may use/need later in your career such as advanced software skills or more efficient working techniques etc.
Volunteering is also a great activity to do for people who are looking to change careers as it provides the flexibility to learn new skills and get training without the long-term commitment that a job/apprenticeship will demand.
Last but not least, it can simply be an opportunity to challenge yourself, especially in areas that you may not have prior experience in. This will look great on a CV as it shows prospective employers that you are willing to step outside your comfort zone and embrace challenges.
What roles are available to volunteers?
There are many different areas in which you can work as a volunteer, they can range from:
- Customer Service, either working behind the tills or on the shopfloor helping customers in need.
- Expansion of a business, this could a variety of different roles but all with the express purpose of expanding the business to help it reach more people.
- Social Care, going out into the local community and giving people who are socially isolated assistance and someone to speak to.
- Maintaining historical relevant attractions like old Light Railways, Collieries etc.
- Education, things like teaching people how to use new and relevant technology like computers and smartphones
- Social Media and Marketing
- Delivery Driving such as helping local chemists or NHS organizations deliver prescriptions in the local area or delivering/collecting furniture for charities
- Animal Care/Protection
- Environment Conservation
- Finance, such as working with the treasurer of a local charity to aid in money matters.
- Event Work, things such as promoting, setting up and ensuring events intended to benefit the community happen smoothly
- Healthcare, such as driving people to and from hospital or medical centres or raising awareness in the local community of health-related issues.
- E-commerce, such as listing things for sale on platforms such as E-bay or Amazon, researching prices of items online etc.
- Media, such as helping local community radio station by running a show, planning out schedules and more.
How do I get into volunteering?
There are many ways to get into volunteering. Heading down to your local charity shop, community centre or jobcentre etc is a great way to find out what is available in the local area, especially during the Christmas period as these places tend to advertise for volunteers more outwardly during this time. You can also browse sites such as Volunteering Wales that advertise volunteering opportunities. Alternatively, you can get in contact with your Local Authority, typical they’ll have volunteer places available or have services that can help you get into volunteering.
If you are interested in volunteering with us, then visit Volunteer with us – Autistic Minds to fill out our contact form or message us at [email protected]