Giving time to others can be a powerful way to make the world around you a better place – whether that’s the planet, or a bit closer to home… Maybe the park at the end of your street or your local charity shop?
Volunteering is also great for your physical and mental health. It’s helpful for building up your confidence, reducing loneliness and isolation and helping you feel just more connected to, well, everything! Need to get out of the house more often and spend time with positive, friendly people? Volunteering could give you that chance. By supporting a community group, you get a chance to try out new things and learn new skills in a safe and supportive place.
It’s also a brilliant way to share your existing skills and knowledge to help others around you. It can offer you an opportunity to give back to your local community or even help others make positive changes in their lives. It can be an easy and supported way to connect with the outside world (especially the natural world, if you fancy getting your wellies on!) and it brings people from all backgrounds together – whatever our gender, ethnicity, faith, culture or orientation.
Choosing to volunteer could be one of the best decisions you make, for yourself and others. And whilst there is no pay day, there are pay offs: warm positive uplifting moments where you realise that, because you made the choice to volunteer, something good happened for someone else... It might be simply a smile & thank you or it could be a hardship lessened or a goal achieved. The pay offs feel fantastic and continue throughout your volunteering journey. You might not feel it on your first day...or even the first week, but when that feeling comes, you'll know!
Employers and businesses are impressed by those that have volunteering on their CV’s. It shows you have dedication, commitment and a willingness to share your skills, and learn new ones. Volunteering in a new field of work can be the perfect way to find out if it’s for you and many charities also offer references for their volunteers, so it can help if you’re looking for a new job.
Volunteering is definitely not one-size-fits-all; there are so many different volunteering opportunities out there, and we want to find the best match for you based on your interests and goals. The VSI Alliance Volunteer Team will help you get started and work together with you and the volunteering organisation to find the most suitable opportunity for you and what you’re looking for.
The Nuts and Bolts of Volunteering
What if I don’t have a clue what I want to do?
We can help with that. Over the phone, over Zoom or even over a cuppa, we can chat with you about your interests and why you’re thinking about volunteering, to narrow down the options to find something that’s just right for you.
Do I have to have special skills or knowledge to volunteer?
The best things you can bring to any volunteering role are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to roll up your sleeves, and a positive attitude. There are some roles that requires specialised skills (for example, counselling) but most roles don’t.
Would I get any training as a volunteer?
Almost all organisations provide training and support to make sure that you are able to do the tasks involved. Many also have access to other training courses for their volunteers, so being part of a group can help upskill you in other ways.
Will I have to sign up with an organisation for a long time?
No, you won’t. It’s volunteering and whilst commitment and dedication are VERY important to voluntary organisations, if you realise soon after starting with a group that it’s not for you, just let them know. They’ll be interested in your feedback and will wish you well. Give us a shout and we’ll let you know what else is out there.
Will it cost me anything to volunteer?
Volunteering should cost you nothing but time and energy! Again, almost all organisations will refund your out-of-pocket expenses, like the bus or train fares. Others will also cover things like refreshments (everyone needs a brew break!). Groups will aim for you not to be out-of-pocket as a result of volunteering with them.
How much time can I give?
You could give a regular commitment or get involved in one-off events – it’s entirely up to you. It may be a few hours a month, or more regularly a couple of times a week… Each group has different needs, but all will try and be flexible with your availability.
What about my benefits?
You can volunteer and it shouldn’t make any difference to your benefits. If you have any doubts, or for more information, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau has a useful guide at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/benefits-introduction/how-volunteering-affects-your-benefits/
What if I have a bad experience whilst volunteering?
You can tell us, confidentially. The VSI Alliance is the body that support voluntary and community groups in Calderdale to be the best they can be. If something’s gone wrong for you in volunteering, we would appreciate hearing about it so we can help the group get better at looking after their volunteers.