Why do we volunteer?

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I’m Reema – a young person who fell in love with volunteering and the charity sector.  I’ve been volunteering for as long as I can remember, and yet I still wish I had started sooner!  There is so much to learn from volunteering and so much to experience that you can never get bored of it.  At one point, I was volunteering for over 7 charities at one time – giving my time and talents to them whenever and wherever I could.  Inspired by the 2012 London Olympics, I think volunteering has really grown across the country and it’s great to see other people passionately doing what I love doing.  And why wouldn’t you?

Ask a group of volunteers why they do what they do and I guarantee you’ll get a ton of different responses, simply because there are so many different reasons to volunteer and everyone can get so much out of it.  I was often told that volunteering can be good for my employability or CV when I was in school – but I was just a kid and didn’t look as far as a career path at that time.  When I started volunteering, however, I realised they were right.  I didn’t try to increase my employability, it just happened.  Volunteering let me meet new people, like-minded kind people and these people became friends.  Volunteering gave me new skills and increased my knowledge, like the ability to organise and manage events or a first aid qualification.  Volunteering gave me the opportunity to experience things that I may not have experienced otherwise.  What volunteering has taught me and given me is an endless list – so the question “why do we volunteer” seems to be an endless one.

We volunteer because we can make a difference to people, we can positively influence their lives and help them be happier.  Something that may be easy to you might be really difficult to someone else.  You may find it easy to go to the shops and get some sweets for yourself, whilst someone in a wheelchair might not be able to do that journey easily without the support of someone else.  Little things to you might be big things to someone else and volunteering can help you to realise the needs of others around you, be more understanding of these differences and help you to make a difference.

I briefly mentioned that volunteering can improve your employability, it can look good on your CV…  All of the qualities you need at work can be found in voluntary roles, such as confidence, being able to do presentations or speeches and engaging with other people.  You can choose your voluntary role based on what you want to do in the future, if you want to.  If you want to be a teacher than volunteering to teach something can be a great way to build your experience and skills.  You can demonstrate your ability to be a team worker by working with a team of volunteers or your leadership skills by leading the team.  By volunteering, you are enhancing your CV without even trying to.

Without a doubt, the best way to understand why you should volunteer is to just go and do it.  You’ll see the results for yourself instantly.  I used to volunteer as a mentor for a team of young people learning to campaign and speaking up to change the world for the better.  At the start of the programme, some of those mentees were so quiet or didn’t have faith in themselves.  But by the end, they had gained more confidence and learnt that they could do anything they put their mind to.  I remember one girl achieving things she thought she would never achieve at the start – and it made me so proud of her.  Volunteering gave them that confidence, they became more comfortable at doing things they originally found awkward (like talking to their local MP or being on TV) and most importantly, they learned more about themselves.

What I love most about volunteering is that the volunteers themselves can be anyone!  It does not matter how old you are, what you are good at, what you like doing or don’t like doing, what you do in life – none of that matters.  What matters is that you give up your time to help someone else.  You get volunteers of all ages, doing all sorts of different things but they all do it with passion, compassion and kindness.  Ask a group of people why they volunteer and you’ll receive all sorts of answers.  These people all started volunteering for different reasons and they see different benefits in it – no two people have the exact same response – and that just goes to show the diversity of why we all volunteer.

With the recent referendum, I have seen so many young people get involved in politics.  Under 18s may not be able to vote right now but they have a voice, they are all using that voice to say one thing: we want to vote, we want a say.  Years ago, women couldn’t vote.  A group of women spoke out against it – they took a stand and asked for their rights, and they got them.  Without these women, half of the population may not have had the right to vote on Thursday and now, these young people are fighting for their say.  Whatever you believe in, whatever you want to change – take a stand for it.  Volunteer, campaign, use your voice.  This opportunity they have to join together as one is invaluable.  Together, you’re incredibly powerful.  Together, you can change the world.

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One thought on “Why do we volunteer?

  1. I notice that my busiest students are also the ones who are first to volunteer. In addition to all the good they do others, it helps them academically. They get out of their own heads for a while and by focusing on something new, they often find solutions to problems they have been struggling with. Win/win all around.

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