Volunteering - who benefits?
Did you know that National Volunteers’ Week happens at the start of June every year? And did you also know that over 40% of people in the UK volunteer formally, through a group, club or organisation and that a quarter of us volunteer at least once a month?
Volunteering comes in a bewildering array of forms:
- Mass volunteering provides opportunities to contribute to some very special events. Charity runs, festivals and major sporting events all need people in high viz jackets or t-shirts to help marshall the crowds, dispense refreshments, shout encouragement or give first aid and TLC.
- Volunteers with a passion for the environment are cleaning up local beaches and green spaces, planting wild flower meadows, building stiles and clearing footpaths.
- Pet rescue centres are always looking for volunteers to walk dogs; care for them in the centre or check that they are settling well into their new homes.
- People are giving their time to help prepare young people for adulthood, by becoming a mentor through the Prince’s Trust or other similar charities.
Organisations like Green Gym and Good Gym combine volunteering with fitness and are making a difference in their local communities by mobilizing teams of people to plant trees, do manual labour for community organisations or help with odd-jobs for people who struggle to do them alone.
But volunteering can also be a much quieter and more personal experience. Take an older person living alone and dealing with a diagnosis of cancer, what a difference would it make to their life if someone popped round every week to have a cup of tea and a chat; if her neighbours organised drivers to take her to hospital appointments, and if she knew that she didn't have to cope alone?
Volunteers who give their time, skills, experience and energy gain so much in return. They meet new people, develop their own skills, have fun, improve their confidence, build their CVs and take action on issues they feel passionate about and enrich their own lives. As Winston Churchill once said: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
So, who benefits from volunteering? Everyone benefits!
These websites are a good place to start if you’re looking for some volunteering inspiration:
www.volunteeringmatters.org.uk, www.do-it.org and www.ncvo.org.uk.
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