It’s easy to feel disconnected from our communities, as we juggle work, family and jobs around the house. One of the most satisfying, fun, and productive ways to get to know your neighbours is through volunteering for community service projects. Just a small amount of your time can make a big difference to an organisation or person that needs your help.
There are many different roles and types of volunteering. What suits you will depend on your age, experience, skills, interests and availability. There are fewer opportunities for young people under 16, so if you have young children why not volunteer as a family? If volunteering begins at an early age, it can become part of kids’ lives — something they might just expect and want to do and could prove a fun activity for everyone.
There are so many reasons to volunteer…
* Help others and make a positive contribution to the local community
* Have fun
* Meet people and make new friends
* Develop existing skills
* Learn new skills
* Put your spare time to good use
* Support a cause you care about
* Gain valuable experience to add to your CV and get up-to-date references
* Build confidence and self-esteem
* Improve your mental health and wellbeing
If you don’t have much time to spare perhaps consider flexible, local activities such as offering to run a stall at a fete or fundraising event; helping to clear leaves or snow for elderly neighbours; joining in with a local litter pick or tidying a park, churchyard or community allotment. Or you could make a more regular commitment to visit someone who is housebound and help with shopping or gardening, offer your time to a nearby charity shop, foodbank, community transport scheme, school or day centre. If you love animals you could help train service dogs or provide short term foster care for animals before they are re-homed.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to develop new skills; you could learn to be a community first responder with the Ambulance Service; train as an adviser with Citizens Advice, work with children as a Scout or Guide Leader, join Essex Police as an Active Citizen or Special Constable, or develop the skills needed to support people wo have recently been bereaved. These are just a few of the opportunities that are currently available – the possibilities are endless. Whatever you choose you can be sure you will make new friends, rise to new challenges and feel proud of your achievements.
For more information about volunteering opportunities in your local area, visit www.volunteeressex.org or call Volunteer Uttlesford on 01799 510525.
We will be starting a new training course for advisers in January – click here for more information, or call us on 01799 618840.