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Celebrating Volunteer Power



This week is National Volunteer’s Week, which celebrates all the incredible work that people do by giving up their time for others. Volunteering can take many guises, such as helping in person at a local organisation, doing anything from befriending older people, to fundraising for a good cause, to helping with wildlife conservation. But it can also be something like giving up some of your time to provide your existing skills to help others – for example, using IT knowledge to teach others to become PC literate. Or you could help others from your own home by volunteering online as peer support or contributing data as a citizen scientist.

 

There are a huge number of volunteers in the UK, making up an unpaid workforce of approx. 14 million people every year. Rates of volunteering have, however, been steadily declining since 2014 – at that time, around 70% of the population said they volunteered at least once a year, but this was down to 55% in 2021/22.

 

Despite a decline in numbers, volunteering continues to be the backbone of important services that are traditionally not funded by government or private companies. Charities and not-for-profit groups rely on volunteers to help them deliver their mission – volunteers help reduce costs, improve services, bring specialist skills, and help diversify and innovate a sector that is often stretched for resources.

 

Many things would not be able to take place without volunteers – for example, approx. 6,000 people volunteer to help out at the London Marathon every year, and without them, the event could not go ahead. As another example, there are around 2,500 food banks across the UK, and it was estimated that, in 2017, 40,000 volunteers made their essential work possible, contributing 4 million working hours between them.

 

Volunteering has obvious benefits for those on the receiving end of the help, but it also has huge benefits for you too! Doing something altruistic (that is, something selfless that benefits others) makes you feel a sense of reward and satisfaction that is hard to beat! This boosts your self-esteem and sense of self-worth, as well as your overall mood – doing something good for others makes you feel good too!

 

Giving something back to your community helps you make a difference while feeling part of something bigger than yourself. It’s actually a really good way to meet new people who share similar values to you, helping to expand your social circle and combat loneliness or isolation.

 

Volunteering often involves doing something you haven’t done before or gaining valuable experience in a field you’re interested in. Stepping out of your comfort zone to learn new skills helps build confidence, providing a sense of achievement and purpose that can help you in other areas of life.

 

As long as you have the time to commit, and you don’t try to take on too much, there’s no downside to volunteering – everybody wins!

 

If you think you would like to volunteer, these organisations ae a good place to start. They have lots of information about the different types of volunteering and what might be available in your area:

 

 

Alternatively, keep an eye out in your local community for organisations looking for help. Whatever you choose to do, good luck – and thank you!

 


Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

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