Volunteering offers so many benefits, both for the people you help and for yourself.
Here are just a few reasons for volunteering……
- Supports vulnerable people, thus enabling them to live healthy and rewarding lives.
- Volunteers find a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.
- Health benefits include improved self-esteem and the ability to deal with ill health more readily.
- Volunteering can also help the healing process for those people who have suffered from ill-health or addiction
- Offers the opportunity to break down barriers by enabling you to socialise with people of different cultural backgrounds.
- You will learn new skills which will improve your employment prospects.
Before you start looking for a suitable position, you should consider who you would like to help…children, the elderly, homeless people, mentoring the young, travelling abroad to deprived communities…. above all choose a cause which you are passionate about.
There a huge number of opportunities out there, so don’t be put off by your present commitments as you should be able to find a post out of hours or at the weekends.
So where do you find a selection of positions you might be interested in? The first port of call is your local NVCO (The National Voluntary Council for Voluntary Organisations)
Before you contact them it is worth knowing who they are. They represent and support 12,500 member organisations, whose membership account for a third of the voluntary sector workforce in England. They have regional centres where you can ask for advice on a suitable position. Simply enter your postcode to discover the location of your local NVCO.
In the paragraphs below I have touched upon six worthwhile causes which you might like to volunteer for…..of course there are many more. However I hope they will crystallise your thoughts on the type of volunteering you would like to get involved in.
There are a wide range of opportunities to support children. For example The Rainbow Trust supports families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness. You will not necessarily be in direct contact with children, as there are many other ways you can support this charity.
Another fantastic charity is Make A Wish, who make dreams come true by fulfilling the wishes of children suffering from life threatening illnesses.
A company called gvi run volunteer programs for all ages, from durations as short as one week, all the way up to six months! Whatever your interest, you can get involved as a volunteer overseas, making a sustainable difference in a variety of fields.
As a retiree you will have had many years experience in a specialist field. This experience can be incredibly valuable to community organisations abroad where your expertise is probably hard to come by. An organisation which specialises in placing retirees in volunteer positions abroad is Volunteer Forever You can learn about the culture of your chosen country as well as exploring its countryside and cities in your free time.
So many older people feel lonely.
The facts are extremely depressing……
- In the UK over 5 million people aged over-65 live alone
- Over one million people aged 65+ living in the UK say they often feel lonely The TV is the main form of company for around five million older people
Spending just half an hour per week on the phone to an older person will make a huge difference to their life.
Being a garden volunteer has many benefits…..taking exercise in the fresh air, helping to enhance the environment, meeting a wide range of interesting people…the list goes on.
The Royal Horticultural Society has a wide range of volunteer posts….
- School Visit Volunteers assist with visits from groups of school children, including arranging activities.
- Mobility Vehicle Volunteer Drivers enable less able visitors to see all the important features of a garden.
- Volunteer Tour Guides deliver garden tours, interpreting the garden and its history.
- Membership Recruitment Volunteers answer visitor queries about membership
- Welcome Volunteers provide visitors with a warm welcome on arrival.
Many large country houses have similar posts, with a prime recruiter being the National Trust.
Dogs can help disabled and blind people in so many ways. However dogs need training to fulfil their wide range of tasks and that is where the role of a volunteer comes in. The principle charity for the training and placing of guide dogs in the UK is Guide Dogs for the Blind or simply Guide Dogs as it is now known.
You may like to care for a guide dog puppy in your own home from 6 weeks to around 14 months. You can help by providing bed and breakfast to dogs in training, or by transporting dogs and puppies as a driver.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is another very worthwhile charity, who are looking for volunteers to support them in many different roles……
- Help train hearing puppies from just eight weeks old.
- Become a breeding scheme volunteer.
- Volunteer as a steward for charity walks or at a training centre
- Foster older dogs who have retired from their caring role
An organisation called Cycling UK believes that cycling should be available to everyone no matter what difficulties they have.
For nervous riders or people with mobility issues, there are inclusive cycling centres which provide a safe environment to cycle.
Dedicated routes, which are suitable for adapted bikes, enable individuals, friends and families to cycle together.
However ‘Inclusive Cycling’ requires volunteers to assist cyclists using these centres, so if you are an experienced cyclist you might like to volunteer. Cycling UK have a range of cycling related volunteer roles. Take a look.
I hope that these examples of volunteering will inspire you to use your expertise in a volunteer role. I’m sure that your assistance will be much appreciated.
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