This article is contributed by Julia Webb and is written from a UK perspective.
Voluntary working can be very rewarding and can help you to develop new skills and even lead to paid employment. There are many types of organisations that take on volunteers so the first step is to narrow down the choices. Think about what kind of organisation you might want to work in and what type of role you might want. Remember though you have two options here – firstly you can think about what skills you have that you can offer them or secondly you can think about what new skills you could learn.
As well as helping others and doing something worthwhile in the community – volunteering is a way of gaining new skills and experiences. Volunteering work can open up new opportunities and horizons. It is a great way to meet new people and experience other people’s outlooks on the world.
Organisations and agencies – finding what’s out there
So either you know what you want to do, or, perhaps you don’t have a clue and you just want to check out what is available – the next step is to contact employers in the voluntary sector. One of the best ways of doing this is looking on the internet – organisations like Do-it or Third Sector list jobs from lots of different organisations, and you may find a site specific to your local area (e.g. Voluntary Norfolk). If you already know which charity you want to work for you can try approaching them directly or look at their website to see what’s available. Local agencies will often give you a face to face interview and try to match you up with a job that will suit you.
Roles that reward you
Yes I know that may sound a little odd, but there are roles that have some real bonuses attached to them. These include raising awareness of charities such as Greenpeace
at music festivals or working as a steward for Oxfam
at some of the larger festivals (e.g. Latitiude, Bestival, Glastonbury). The festival organisers make a donation to the charity in return for the provision of professional stewarding services. Stewards work shifts and provide advice and support for festival goers. In addition to free entry they receive free meals, tea and coffee, a separate campsite with showers and toilets and of course time off to spend watching bands and having fun!
Organisations like VSO
(Voluntary Services Overseas) provide opportunities for people who have professional experience (e.g. doctors, nurses, teachers) to live and work abroad for a minimum wage – often in third world countries. There are a variety of other organisations (e.g. VSI
) who recruit less skilled volunteers for projects all over the world. These projects range from projects working in conservation, teaching, sport, and wildlife conservation.
To find out about volunteering working
opportunities in your area or any of the others mentioned in this article your first stop is an Internet search. Large charities will have their own website – just click the volunteering tab, or try the more general volunteering websites mentioned above. Good luck!
Julia Webb is a freelance writer and journalist specialising in literature and employment.