Top tips for starting your volunteering adventure
This week is National Volunteers' Week and across the UK charities are saying thank you to the brilliant volunteers who make their work possible.
I have personally volunteered for several organisations over the years and it is something I never tire of doing. Every volunteering opportunity I have I am able to learn new skills, meet interesting people and get an enormous sense of satisfaction.
So, if you're thinking of giving your time and skills to a worthy cause, read on for my top tips to get started...
Pick a cause close to your heart
Volunteering can be hard work (but totally worth it of course!) so I would recommend choosing a charity that you really love and starting there. Speak to staff and other volunteers about their experiences and the cause, to get a feel for what's involved.
Be clear about your commitment level
How much time / resources do you have to commit to volunteering? You may be able to volunteer for a one-off event, or for an hour every few months. You may be able to attend meetings at an office or have to work remotely. Being clear about these details at the beginning will help you set expectations.
Decide whether to use your skills or learn something new
There are so many different ways to volunteer - you could offer your skills to an organisation or ask to be trained in a new area. Whichever one you do, remember to check what training or support is available.
Consider the options
You may choose to be an event volunteer once a year, or dedicate a significant amount of time as Trustee for a charity. Either way, you will be making a difference, but it's important to consider what works for you and the charity.
Ask about policies
Some charities pay nominal expenses for volunteers, but it's worth checking this beforehand if you're worried about it. You will also need to know about things like code of conduct, clothing requirements and health and safety issues. Charities usually have a volunteer induction booklet or a policy which you can request.
Understand how vital you are
Many charities rely on volunteers to deliver life-changing services and fundraise to keep their work going. If you decide to volunteer, you will be a vital part of making their work possible - so thank you!
However you give back, remember to enjoy it and have lots of fun. Good luck!