I first got involved in volunteering as I wanted to help organisations that helped my grandfather, who had battled cancer. Friends and family helped me fundraise, but I wanted to do something regularly, that’s when I first applied for voluntary positions in my local charity shops. I’d always supported charity shops and bought second hand items from them, as it’s a great way to get a bargain whilst giving your money to a good cause, but I wanted to help in a bigger way by giving my time.
After a lot of waiting, I only heard back from one of the opportunities I’d applied for and that was with my top choice Cancer Research UK. At first I felt a bit deflated by not hearing anything back (even a rejection) from the other shops, but then my cousin reminded me that they are inundated by applications and not to take it to heart.
Working in a charity shop was everything I expected and more. I tagged and steamed clothes, dressed shop floor mannequins and manned the till. Each shift I’d meet new people and I formed some great relationships with people I wouldn’t normally have met outside of the shop. The staff gave me the opportunity to be involved in a lot of fun experiences… I was a model for a fashion show which was in collaboration with M & co and I raised awareness of new campaigns at events held at Tk Maxx. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to be creative and make posters and decorations for upcoming events, and I felt like my efforts were really appreciated.
When people say they learn new skills from volunteering, it is true. It’s not just learning how to steam clothes properly or how to use an electronic till, but it's your personal skills, like your confidence and communication that improve.
I encourage anyone to consider volunteering, as it's a great way to give back and it looks great on the CV. Before you do go ahead with applications ask yourself a few questions first so you can get the best experience for you…
What do you want to do?
Find something you enjoy, if you have a hobby you could see if there is anything available in that area. For example, if you like tennis you could see if there are any voluntary tennis clubs that need help.
Alternatively, volunteer for an organisation that you support. By doing something you enjoy or support you will enjoy your experience more and take more away from it.
What can you offer?
Think about the skills you have. Perhaps you’re an avid gardener, an exceptional listener or have great ICT skills. Your strengths can be an asset to an organisation.
How much time can you give?
Be realistic with how much time you can give, think about what a normal week looks like for you. Can you only do a one off event? Or are you very flexible and can do something regularly? Organisations need to know how much time you have available before they commit to you.
Look for opportunities that fit you. If you can only do a one off event there’s no point in applying for a post that’s weekly commitment.
Why do you want to volunteer?
Consider why you want to be involved in an organisation; is it just for you or do you want to give back to the community?
Write for New Leaf College Blog:
The blog is looking for New Leaf College students to share their personal experiences with their own wellbeing or with the college. If writing isn’t your thing you can still share your story on the blog via a video. If you’re interested in getting involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Useful links for volunteering: