Teenagers and young adults in today’s society face higher prices than ever, and in order to just about live comfortably, and affording the occasional luxury, many have part-time jobs. I have a part-time job, but I also fill up an additional four hours a week volunteering. Partaking in unpaid work is often sneered at, but I’d like to explain why I find volunteering so valuable, in addition to my reasons why it should be considered by everyone. Some people genuinely do not have enough hours in the week with commitments to volunteer, but to those with some time spare, I’d definitely encourage you to sign up to your local charity shop, or organisation today!
- The opportunity to learn new, useful skills, in a relaxed environment.
Volunteering has allowed me to develop both practical skills and personal attributes; although I have only been working at my local Oxfam for a month or so, I already have new transferable skills to my name, which I will apply in the workplace in the future. Many places of work require employees to amass skills including confident till work, communicating with suppliers and customers effectively, dealing with vulnerable people amongst other things, and all these can be learned through volunteering. One of my biggest fears which put me off volunteering for a long time was fear of not completing tasks correctly and embarrassing myself – volunteers are super friendly individuals, and do not mind how long it takes you to work out something, or how long it takes you to complete a job! They are appreciative enough that you are dedicating time as it is, to volunteer at their organisation.
- You meet lovely people & it enhances your life.
Volunteering has made me feel part of a big family; volunteers are all there for the same reasons, immediately being something which makes you bond with the rest of your volunteering cohort. Despite the other volunteers at my Oxfam store being quite a few years older than myself, we all get along fantastically; I work with the same lady every week downstairs in the books & music storeroom and we spend all shift talking about a range of topics. She is always very attentive to me and asks every week how university is going, which further increases how valued I feel by the lovely set of people working around me. Relationships with co-volunteers also last outside of the workplace; my friend who volunteers at the Lincoln Oxfam branch was invited and subsequently went to a Christmas Meal with the rest of the team last year!
- There are literally hundreds of different places/activities to volunteer in.
Volunteering opportunities are not just limited to shops – many cultural and artistic places rely on dedicated volunteers to help run them, in order to remain open. Theatres and museums, for instance, are endlessly fascinating places, often actively seeking out people to spare a few hours a week helping the places run smoothly. Working for nothing can naturally progress into something much more; it can be the push or motivation a person needs to figure out that they want to work eventually in the field they are volunteering in. Alternatively, it can play a part in steering people towards a direction that they either want their eventual career to be in, or not to be in. If there are not enough people willing to work for free, places in small, sleepy towns like mine which are vital in showing local plays and exhibiting local history may be forced to shut. It would be a devastating blow for rural communities boosting what is available for locals, thus volunteering is so important for helping to keep the world going.
- It is work experience which can be added to your CV.
Universities and employers regard volunteering highly; it shows off another side to a person and exemplifies their dedication if they are already working for free somewhere regularly. Universities and employers unsurprisingly favour those who have a dedicated and persistent attitude towards life, and what they are doing in their lives. If this is the only reason you would ever decide to volunteer, however, you’ve learned nothing from this blog post. Yes, of course an extra element building up your CV is a perk, but knowing the goodness of your actions is helping people both around you and in the wider world should be the main reason you make the commitment to volunteering, personally.
I hope I’ve put together a good compelling argument about why volunteering is a brilliant thing to start doing. If my reasons to sign up aren’t convincing enough, or you are still a little unsure about whether it is right for you (which is completely understandable; it took me years to summon up the courage to finally join Oxfam), then Radio 1 a while ago ran their ‘1 Million Hours’ campaign. Encouraging people to pledge a million collective hours towards volunteering, it was effective and the total was reached last year, but you can still read all about it here.