Volunteering is a great way to share your skills and knowledge to help others around you. It offers you an opportunity to give back to your local community and even help others to make positive changes in their lives. It can be an easy way to connect with the outside world (especially the natural world, if you fancy getting your wellies and raincoat on!) and can bring people from all backgrounds together – whatever our gender, ethnicity, faith, culture or orientation.
What’s in it for me? Volunteering is a two-way thing – you give some of your time and energy and in return you gain new skills and experiences, meet new people and explore a new working environment. Thinking of a change of career? Volunteering in your new field is the perfect way to find out if it’s for you.
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.
Will it cost me anything to volunteer? Again, almost all organisations will refund your out of pocket expenses, like the bus or train fare. Others will also cover things like refreshments (everyone needs a brew break!). Voluntary and Community groups will aim for you not to be out-of-pocket as a result of volunteering with them.
How much time can I give? It may be just a few hours a month, or more regularly a few times a week. You could give a regular commitment or get involved in one-off events – it’s entirely up to you. Each group has different needs, but all will be flexible with your availability.
What about my benefits? You can volunteer for as long as you like, 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/