Volunteering isn’t something new; the verb ‘volunteering’ dates back as far as 1755… I know, who knew that we’ve been volunteering for 266 years! So why does volunteering seem to be something that is becoming less prevalent in today’s society?
When people think of volunteering, they think of unnecessary commitment, something that’s going to increase their already busy schedule, something that’s too time consuming and requires hard work researching opportunities that they would be suited too. I’m here to tell you that volunteering doesn’t have to be any of those things.
Volunteering is a pure act of kindness, from something as simple as picking up a pint of milk from the shops for your neighbour or picking up the telephone to someone you know is alone just to check in and make sure they’re OK, or it can be as extravagant as travelling across the world to a Third World Country to build wells so that children can have clean drinking water. An act of kindness is what you choose to make it!
Unfortunately, with our very busy schedules, making time for others and performing acts of kindness in the ways I’ve just mentioned can fall by the wayside in modern society. The world we live in has become a far smaller place with the ease of International travel, and the way we in which we move around the world and the way in which we conduct ourselves in our daily lives has significantly increased in pace over the years, leaving, in most people’s opinion, very little time to do something kind. Whilst volunteering is something that we consider having a primary positive impact on the beneficiary, it also creates a huge number of benefits for the volunteer.
Volunteering can help you gain confidence by giving you the chance to try something new and build a real sense of achievement.
Volunteering can help you meet different kinds of people from all walks of life that you wouldn’t ordinarily cross paths with and build friendships and relationships that you wouldn’t have considered possible in normal day-to-day life. It can help you feel part of something outside your usual social circles and can make you feel like you’re part of a tight knit community.
You can learn new skills, gain experience and sometimes even qualifications that you could use to develop your career. Volunteering can help you challenge yourself to try something different, achieve personal goals and practice using your skills and discover hidden talents that you didn’t know you had.
With all those benefits, why wouldn’t we all volunteer, well I suppose because of TIME! Lack of time convinces us that we simply can’t volunteer and that’s why ‘only retired people volunteer’, and yes, that is true, traditionally volunteers are retired people looking to fill their extra time, that ‘extra time’ that us 30 something’s are convinced we don’t have. But who are we kidding, of course we have time, even if it’s a spare 30 minutes once a week or once a month, we can all spare a little time.
So, let’s stop lying to ourselves and do something kind today; let’s put our spare time to good use, let’s pop to the shop for our sick neighbour, let’s call that friend that we know is alone, let’s stop by the local care home and drop off some treats for the residents, let’s all do something that helps those around us and give ourselves a true sense of purpose!
Natalie Hays, Co-Founder / Director