Volunteering can provide not only a sense of well-being but also a few highly prized brownie points in the eyes of potential employers. It can be a highly effective way to get that all-important recognition that enables you to ‘stand out from the crowd’. Volunteering allows you to make a real contribution to the lives of people and could also change your life forever. Please read on and gain an overview of what’s available. Charities, as well as a source for paid employment, also provide excellent volunteering opportunities for people who can provide the right skills & attributes, time, and, crucially, the desire to work for a cause that they wish to help. Before you start looking for a volunteer opportunity, you should be absolutely clear about what you have to offer in terms of knowledge and experience. Are your skills needed? By whom? When and how often? Are expenses paid? What for? How much?
If you straighten all this out in the beginning, there will be less chance of any misunderstandings and you will find that voluntary work is not only very rewarding in its own right but also allows you to make a real contribution to the community. You should expect to go through some form of selection and interview process and you should approach this with as much professionalism as if it was for paid employment- this is where GSM Careers will come to your rescue with lots of tips, advice and interview practice!
So whether you want to organise events, demonstrate administration skills or apply for some practical help or perhaps raise money, there is a voluntary group for you. I’ve researched the names of some organisations. The list is by no means exhaustive but should provide you with a starting point: Samaritans, Citizens Advice Bureaux (highly recommended for Law students), Red Cross, WRVS (Women’s Royal Voluntary Service), Disabled/Handicapped Group Work, Pensioners Forums, RSPCA, SCOPE, Oxfam, Stroke Association, Age Concern, CRUSE – Bereavement Care, National Association of Prison Visitors, Victim Support, Relate, Amnesty International. All of these organisations require volunteers so please don’t hesitate to make an enquiry.
The prevalence and value of volunteering will grow over the coming years so I encourage you to approach any of the above groups that interest you. Looking to the future, GSM’s Horizon Award will add further recognition to the value of volunteering. It will give our students a platform that awards volunteering, and other extra-curricular activity, by allocating points designed to inspire, encourage and help students to ‘stand out from the crowd’.