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What is Volunteering?
When we think of volunteering we think of helping other people and putting ourselves out for others. However there is another side to volunteering, and that is the benefit to ourselves. Giving our time for free, or our skills for free for a good cause. Sometimes this is for a charity we hold dear to us for some reason, they could have helped a loved one in the past.
I volunteer as a befriender for The Silver Line, a charity set up by Dame Esther Rantzen to combat loneliness in the elder community.
This sort of volunteering suits me very well, I have a regular half an hour slot each week and I make a call from my own home. I like to think of this time as ‘me time’, and I set myself up with a cup of tea and a biscuit or two.
Finding time for volunteering
I have a very hectic job which involves me working away from home regularly, but because of the virtual call centre I simply log in and make the call to my mobile rather than landline. It is a very clever system. I answer my phone and it then calls my Silver Liner. I was unsure to begin with as I worried that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. But I had training – all via the virtual call centre, as well as lots of support. This gave me the confidence to go to the next step. I was then matched based on my interests and the Silver Liner’s interests. I can’t speak highly enough about their matching process. We never have a dull moment on our calls and always run over. I have learnt so much and we enjoy sharing stories with each other.
No need to worry
I had also worried about what to do if my Silver Liner was ever at risk in any way, like if they needed help. But, again all of the training and support I receive helps there as well.
The benefits to me are; no matter where I am in the country I have to be able to contact my friend at the same time on the same night each week. Initially that seems like a burden, but in reality, this means that no matter what, I get to have my chat with my friend. It feels nice to have this simple routine and I make a ritual of it, in whichever hotel I am staying I still get the kettle on and settle down. The next benefit is that it has given me more confidence, I didn’t know if I would be any good in this role, but I hope that I make someone’s day a little brighter.
Make it happen
To find out more about volunteering with The Silver Line CLICK HERE
As long as you pick a cause you care about you will meet like minded people. Be it dog walking, leading a group of scouts or talking to community groups about your career. You will always meet new contacts, perhaps for professional benefit, but mostly for your own personal benefit. These new friends can become experts as well as mentors for you in the future as well. Acting as a befriender at The Silver Line has given me a match with someone who grew up raising chickens and growing vegetables, what could be better conversation for our weekly catch up?
New Skills and Free Training
Personally I love new challenges, but sometimes I have benefitted from a little hand holding. This is so easy when you are a volunteer. I have been able to work around my volunteering in the past and many employers give volunteering days each year, where you can be paid to take time off for certain activities. I think about STEM ambassadors or volunteer gardeners with heritage charities and I think of personal development!
I have received lots of training as a staff board member for my employer, and this has 100% helped in my wider career. This type of volunteering is very much seen as part of career progression nd being a team player. So the out dated idea of volunteering being just for people looking to get their first steps on the ladder is wrong! I have also received training for public speaking, event organising, one to one mentoring and all for free.
Health benefits of volunteering
It is not karma, or the feel good factor. Because Volunteering really is good for your health. It boosts your endorphins and allows you to engage with your surroundings. Although I volunteer helping an older person, the same person also used to volunteer themselves and promises me that is what has helped him to stay young!
You show commitment and reliability
This is perfect for those of us looking to get into the jobs market or a new career avenue. If you go in blind to an interview for a new career move, you are not showing any value to a potential employer, however with volunteering under your belt, it shows such a lot of motivation and passion.
Feel part of the community
By joining the local scouts or girl guides as a volunteer you could meet new people who live close by. Have a look at
Volunteering here. Or you could find out about your local foodbank via The Trussell Trust. Volunteering is in fact so good for you that the government are encouraging it, via Gov.uk.
So there are no reasons not to. Start today and feel happier immediately.