It’s National Volunteers’ Week. Volunteering has been a massive part of my life and, as such, has had a massive impact on the course it’s taken.
My longest volunteering role was with Hospital Radio Plymouth. I started this while I was studying for my degree, and I’m still a member today. I also volunteer on the committee of the Early Dance Circle and with Action for Children at my local children’s centre.
What’s the point?
From Foodbanks to museums, Special Constable to National Trust Guides, organisations which have an impact across all levels of society are reliant on volunteers to complete all kinds of tasks. This means there are thousands of volunteering roles, so it’s easy to find something you’d enjoy – it shouldn’t be arduous.
What’s in it for me?
While it’s nice to give, volunteering isn’t completely selfless, whether that’s intentional or not. Personally, volunteering has allowed me to learn about subjects I would never have been exposed to otherwise. Often you get a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ – special access due to your special volunteer status.
I’ve made life-long friends – people I wouldn’t have met otherwise and have brought real joy to my life.
Why are you telling me about this?
Ok, so while it’s a nice and rewarding thing to do, there are more tangible benefits too. Volunteering often fills that tricky CSR box which companies are trying to tick and can contribute to CPD targets.
Depending on the role you choose, you also get a unique insight into a particular demographic and sector. Hospital Radio Plymouth gave me more experience of a live studio environment than I could ever have wished for elsewhere. I also learnt more about speaking to vulnerable people and got an insight into just how hectic things are at the frontline of the NHS. All of this experience has been invaluable at various points in my career.
Volunteering at a children’s centre has allowed me access to talks and information from scholars at the cutting edge of their field. The Early Dance Circle is connected with, and is supporting, incredible research which I’d know much less about if I wasn’t helping out.
I know this isn’t the typical topic you’d see covered in a PR blog, but it’s something I believe makes a massive difference – both to the organisation you volunteer with, their beneficiaries and to your own personal development.
If you don’t volunteer yet, have a look around – I promise there’s something out there you’ll enjoy!
I am not a volunteering expert, but if you want to chat about anything I’ve mentioned, feel free to get in touch – and let me know about your volunteering experiences!