Benefits of volunteering.
There are many benefits if you decide to become a volunteer. They are wide ranging for you, your local community and depending what you do, the wider world.
What organisation should I choose?
Making the right choice of a volunteering match is important. If you become a volunteer for a charity that you feel strongly about your personal satisfaction and the commitment you give will be far greater than if you simply roll up to your local charity shop and offer to help because you feel you should do something.
The right match can help you find friends, reach out to the community and learn new skills. Volunteering can also help protect your mental and physical health.
Make new friends.
One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. If you become a volunteer it is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. Volunteering also strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, and fun and fulfilling activities.
Good for your mind and body.
If you become a volunteer it provides many benefits to both mental and physical health:
Boost your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.
A sense of accomplishment.
Pride and identity.
And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
If you become a volunteer it can reduce the risk of depression. A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times.
If you become a volunteer it is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.
Limited mobility - can I still volunteer?
Whether due to a lack of transportation, time constraints, a disability or other reasons, many people prefer to volunteer via phone or computer. There are many projects where you can help. Writing and graphic design lends itself to working at home, and in today’s digital age many organizations might also need help with email and websites.
If you think home-based volunteering might be right for you, contact organizations you like and ask what some of the possibilities might be. Some volunteer organizations may require you to attend an initial training or periodical meetings. You also want to make sure that you are getting enough social contact, and that the organization is available to support you should you have questions.
You just need positivity and passion.
While learning new skills can be beneficial to many, it’s not a requirement for a fulfilling volunteer experience. Bear in mind that the most valuable skills you can bring to any volunteer effort are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed, and a positive attitude.
What do you want to do?
First take some time to identify your goals and interests. Start by thinking about why you want to volunteer. Also think about what you would enjoy doing. Volunteer opportunities that match both your goals and your interests are most likely to be fun and fulfilling for you.
First, ask yourself if there is something specific you want to do.
For example, do I want… :
to make it better around where I live
to meet people who are different from me
to try something new
to do something with my spare time
to see a different way of life and new places
to have a go at the type of work I might want to do as a full-time job
to do more with my interests and hobbies
to do something I’m good at
The best way to volunteer is to match your personality and interests. Having answers to these questions will help you narrow down your search.
Find the right volunteer opportunity.
There are numerous volunteer opportunities available. The key is to find a volunteer position that you would enjoy and are capable of doing. It’s also important to make sure that your commitment matches the organization’s needs.
The following questions can help you narrow your options:
Would you like to work with people or would you rather work in solitude?
Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer to take a more visible role?
How much time are you willing to commit?
How much responsibility are you ready to take on?
What skills can you bring a volunteer job?
What causes are important to you?
Cast your net wide.
In your search for the right volunteer opportunity, don’t limit yourself to just one organization or one specific type of job. Sometimes an opportunity looks great on paper, but the reality is quite different. Try to visit different organizations and get a feel for what they are like and if you click with other staff and volunteers. The more satisfaction you have as a volunteer, the better your contributions and the more likely you’ll continue.
Where do I look?
Locally through libraries or website for your area
Getting the benefits.
You’re donating your valuable time, so it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your volunteering. It’s important to make sure that your volunteer position is a good fit and to communicate with the people you’re working with in the volunteer organization.
Make sure you know what’s expected
Don’t be afraid to make a change.
Below are links to pages related to this section.
Challenge worldwide - use your business and life skills to help people in developing countries.
Find out more about the Maggies Centres and how they could help you or you could help them.
Become a mentor -Robin tells of his experience as a volunteer mentor with the Prince's Trust Youth Business Scotland.
Volunteer Scotland - one stop shop for over 10,000 volunteering opportunities
Help rescue dogs - fostering, new homes and fundraising.
Learning new skills as a volunteer
Find out about becoming a Marie Curie volunteer with the event team at Marie Curie Cancer Care.
More pages to come so watch this space
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