There are many reasons for volunteering. It can be a way to further a cause in which one believes, provide support for a specific organisation or make a difference in the community. One can learn new skills and meet different people. It can be a way to lend one’s time and talents rather than money to an organisation, charity or cause that is important to you.
If you want to volunteer but do not know where to start you can go to the gov.uk public sector information website where there is a page devoted to volunteering.
Volunteering England has a volunteer centre finder as part of its efforts to support a network of quality volunteer development agencies across England that promote and enable volunteering and community involvement. The volunteer centres are a good place to begin a search for volunteering opportunities in one’s local area. They can help to determine one’s interests and then match people in a local charity or voluntary organisation with a suitable volunteering role.
The gov.uk web site also lists Reach as the charity that works with over 10,000 organisations across the United Kingdom to provide skilled professionals who want to volunteer their expertise to make a difference in their communities. Those who volunteer for Reach need to have three or more years’ experience in information technology, management, accountancy, marketing, human resources, project management, business, finance and other areas. They can be on career breaks, retired or even working on a full or part-time basis.
Reach has a personalised service so that volunteers can express their interests in a certain area and the amount of time they are willing or able to give. There are roles for a number of hours during the week or in the evenings, short term projects, fixed term positions and on-going roles. Roles can be shaped based on individual needs and desires. Reach works with volunteers to match opportunities with the skills and availability of their volunteers.
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme, or RSVP, is an organisation that is designed for and encourages those who are 50 years of age and older to volunteer in their local areas in England, Scotland and Wales. On the other hand, there is no age limit and those who are over the age of 80 are most welcome to volunteer. RSVP depends on older people who have more experience in life and skills to help with its various programmes.
Some of these include helping children with paired/group reading, music, sports and games and art and craft sessions; acting as roles models for children who have no father or no experience with someone in the family who works; and helping with after-school clubs. Volunteers also provide complementary care and support services to health care professionals by providing transportation to doctors’ and hospital appointments; befriending those who are geographically and socially isolated; and assisting with non-medical tasks in surgeries, hospitals, general practitioner offices and other residential institutions.
Those who may be looking for work can also volunteer their services. The Work Together Programme enables those who are unemployed and looking for a job to volunteer with a local organisation. Individual advisors from Jobcentre Plus assist with finding suitable volunteering opportunities. These opportunities can also lead to work trials which enable a person to try out a job for up to 30 days. Work trails are voluntary and may lead to an offer of a permanent position at the end of the trial. Again, Jobcentre Plus can be helpful in making arrangements for a trial or directing someone on how to do it themselves.