Supporting National Volunteers week 1st to 7th June 23
Imagine being offered a job that ticked all of these boxes:
Broadening your mind
You may not even realise that most of us have the opportunity of having this job in our lives. You won't be paid for it but actually the non paying element becomes the icing on the cake. It's called"giving back".
Volunteering is in decline
The latest Community Life Survey found the proportion of the UK population who had volunteered at least once a month in 2021/22 was 16% - down 7% from previous years. This reflects the significant impact that Covid19 has had on this sector. Many volunteering positions temporarily ceased and when the doors reopened the support levels didn't recover. So here is my personal bid to raise the volunteering levels a notch as I talk about how rewarding it all is.....
Flexibility and non time bound
In the world of volunteering, never be deterred by thinking you might not have enough time. There is a role for the most time pressured of individuals. I have been lucky enough to have various volunteer roles throughout my adulthood that have varied hugely in time commitment as they slotted into the different stages of my life: starting with student mentoring placements attached to the corporate banks that I worked for 20 years ago, attempting to be a beaver leader when two of my children joined a group, supporting my daughter's special needs school in various roles. My capacity to volunteer changed with the differing stages of my life but I was always lucky enough to do something.
Find your inspiration
I didn't know it at the time but I always gravitated towards supporting children: from that very first mentoring placement to my current role with the Children's Society. Looking back I realise I wanted to use the experiences and challenges I had faced in childhood and spin them for the positive. I hadn't realised at the time the positive psychology behind this. If you can lean into experience and create something positive from it that is where the magic happens for the giver and the recipient.
Give your time and receive the positive energy
It is conditioned in us from an early age that it isn't polite to give in order to receive. But receiving is a guaranteed bi product of volunteering. Whatever organisation you support, whatever time you can give, research shows that what you will receive in return is a huge dose of "feel good hormones".
Additional health benefits
Giving has been shown to combat stress, depression and anxiety, to keep you mentally stimulated, improve self-confidence and provide you with a sense of purpose. Research also shows that people who volunteer typically live longer for all of those reasons cited.
A sense of purpose
In addition to the health benefits, volunteering gives people a sense of purpose. The fulfilling feeling of giving back and contributing to society is unparalleled. An article in Psychology Today quotes Allen Luks term:
“the helper’s high,” the sense of euphoria that can be experienced soon after helping someone else.
The Children's Society - a true team player
In all of the volunteering roles I have carried out in the past twenty years none of them have come close to the Children's Society in the continued support, gratitude and kindness that I have received in my role as a volunteer. As volunteers we naturally don't have as much involvement as a paid staff member. But if you were an outsider looking in at one of our meetings you wouldn't be able to tell the volunteers from the paid staff. We are treated the same. This creates for a really fun and special environment to be a part of. You just never know when you call up one of these organisations to offer your services, what fabulous environment you might be walking into.
You can find details on National Volunteers week below