‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Volunteering has been a large part of my life for many years. I’ve always had a strong desire to give something back, a mindset I picked up from my parents who were often involved with different charities. While I’ve spent most of my adult life volunteering in some capacity or another, I’ve never sat back and appreciated the true value of volunteering – not just for the organisation I volunteer for but also for myself.
When I was at university I volunteered for an organisation called Nightline, the student version of The Samaritans. I also volunteered at my daughter’s pre-school for years and, after losing my second daughter to a heart condition, I now volunteer for a small children’s heart charity. When I look back at the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had and everything I’ve learned through volunteering, it’s safe to conclude my life has been enriched beyond measure by the opportunities volunteering has presented me with.
You don’t need much spare time to volunteer – just one hour per month is enough. If volunteering is something you’ve thought about but just never got round to organising, below are some compelling reasons why you should!
You Will Learn New Skills
This is especially important for students and those looking to enhance their CVs. As a stay at home mum, volunteering enabled me to keep my CV up-to-date and have recent references. I hated the job I left behind when I had my first child and the skills I’ve gained through volunteering guarantee that I never have to go back to it.
If you want to change your career path, fitting in a stint of volunteering around your day job is an excellent way to gain the experience you require. There are so many organisations looking for volunteers – you can learn anything you desire, while feeling proud of yourself at the same time.
You Will Look Outside Your Window
We can all spend far too much time thinking about ourselves. By volunteering we can find out about the world around us and become aware of causes and issues we didn’t know existed. Opening up our worlds in this way, helps us to feel gratitude which heightens our happiness levels.
Volunteering will make you look at the world outside your window and feel proud for the small part you’re playing in making lasting change.
You Will Make New Friends
Through my volunteering and fundraising, I’ve met some incredible people and formed life long friendships. When you volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about, you’re certain to meet people who you share that passion with. This can often be a solid foundation for a wonderful new friendship.
You Set A Good Example
My desire to volunteer undoubtedly came from my parents who were incredibly socially conscious.
In turn, I’ve shared my volunteering journey with my seven year old daughter. She has accompanied me to fundraising events, met other members of my organisation and always shows a keen interest in what I do. She has already made a list of causes she wants to donate her money and time to.
Because my daughter sees me volunteering, she views it as something everyone does. It’s normal for her. I hope this encourages her to volunteer in the future too.
You Make A Difference
Nothing is more fulfilling than knowing your actions are making a difference. Many studies have shown that giving creates feelings of happiness and contentment.
For me, volunteering has given me renewed confidence at a time when most of my days are spent diffusing toddler tantrums and making Play Doh ice creams. I feel valued outside of the home and that means a great deal to me.
The feeling of pride and satisfaction which arises from changing lives and making a tangible difference in the world around you is second to none. Even if you can’t actually see the change you are affecting, you know its there.
Volunteers change lives and make the world a better place, while at the same time reaping a whole host of personal benefits. According to the NCVO, 15.2 million people volunteer at least once per month in the UK. With ever-increasing cuts to public services and the need for charities and volunteers to fill the gaps, there’s never been a better time to find a cause you feel passionate about and get stuck in.