I’m volunteering for work at the Good Food Show this year. It wasn’t a difficult decision. Who wouldn’t want to be there? I LOVE volunteering for work, it reminds me of why I do what I do, it gives me the opportunity to tell others why I do what I do and it’s fun. I won’t lie though, when I visit the NEC on the 27th November, no matter what my genuinely selfless motivations are, I will be taking a suitcase with me in the hope of filling it with lots of scrumptious freebies. I can’t wait.
There are numerous reasons to volunteer. Some do it passionately believing in their chosen cause, some just want to give back and others (sadly) do it for the glory. I volunteer for work because I fundamentally believe that we are all equal and that we all deserve the same freedoms as each other. Ask yourself this:
What do you see first, the person, or the disability?
We spend so much time playing spot the difference that we frequently overlook the fact that we are all only human.
I also volunteer at a soup kitchen and have done so for years now. I chose this because it was something I had never done before, I couldn’t cook and I had never talked to someone who was homeless. For the first time in my life I did not know what to say. “What do you do? Where do you live?” didn’t really seem appropriate. Each month I meet people from all kinds of backgrounds, some are rough sleepers, some have mental health issues but they all have one thing in common, yes folks they are human too. Surprise! Next time you pass a Big Issue seller, or someone ranting as they flap down the street, remind yourself of that. Just like you and me, they are. I volunteer for causes I believe in. As I have said before, I am so grateful to all those whose words have helped me I want to give something back. Becoming a Time to Change Champion has given me that opportunity, to be able to speak out confidently about my own experiences and to contribute towards changing people’s perception of mental health. I consider it a privilege to be given the chance to be involved in such inspiring work, particularly as I know it will make a difference.
Want to gain new skills or add to your CV? Want to meet new people, make new friends? Do you want to try something new? Maybe you want to make a difference to your community, give something back, or have a new sense of purpose. Volunteering can make a real difference to others, as well as to your own life.
What activities can I do?
- Animal Welfare
- Arts and Heritage
- Community Action
- Environment and Conservation
- Health and Social Care
- Management and organisational skills
- Probation Services
- Restorative justice
- Victim support
- Volunteering abroad
- Youth / Children
Start by finding an organisation or cause that is close to your own heart and you want to help. Secondly, choose a volunteer role based on the skills that you want to use or gain.
Over the course of my years of volunteering I have made sandwiches, stuffed envelopes, talked to dying children, cleaned, provided professional advice and much more. As for what I have gained, how long have you got? I have learnt new skills and knowledge. I can not only make a sandwich but I can also russell up beans on toast. I realise now how lucky I am. Apparently, occasionally I can be lost for words. I have learnt my strengths, and my weaknesses. I feel a great sense of achievement. I have met a diverse range of people who have enriched my life. My volunteering has also helped with my career. Most of all I know I have made a difference and that I am a better person from all that I have done. Expect the unexpected.
Not sure where to go from here, if you are UK based try Volunteering England which includes a volunteer centre finder. If you are based in the US visit All For Good or try Go Volunteer if you are based in Australia. Wherever you are in the world there are always opportunities to volunteer.
What could you do to volunteer?