Activism Feature - why volunteer?
- Lizzie Mitchell
- 23 July 2009
So you want me to do something for nothing?
Not nothing, no. Volunteering is a way to gain skills, help out and make a difference.
What could I do?
There are always countless projects in search of volunteers, and if you want to get involved you could do worse than checking out their website (below). Whether you know exactly when and where you want to put your energy to use, or whether you haven’t got a clue where to start, the Edinburgh and Glasgow Volunteer Centres have hundreds of opportunities on offer, as well as all the support and advice you’ll need to get you out in the field.
The need for assistance, and the choice of projects, is incredibly diverse, and it’s worth spending time researching the vast range of options. You could end up doing anything from charity shop work to web design, driving to advocacy, working for organisations as far removed as the Scottish Youth Parliament, a local day-care centre, or a mock Victorian schoolroom.
If you want to volunteer alongside friends, family or colleagues, there are even opportunities for team volunteering – much cheaper than conventional team-building schemes, and potentially much more rewarding for both sides.
Can I be quite specific about what I can and can’t do?
Yes. Opt for something that will be of particular interest. For those with specific professional skills to share, or who are constrained as to time or location and can’t find a project to suit, the centres allow would-be volunteers to advertise their availability to prospective groups and organisations in the hope of securing a match.
A dedicated inclusion team ensures that anyone who wants to can volunteer, providing support for those with a disability or health problem, and offering help to those who don’t know what they want to do or are lacking in confidence. Volunteering can also be a good way of easing back into the workplace if you’ve been out of action for a while, and the Edinburgh centre (volunteeredinburgh.co.uk) has just set up an employment mentoring scheme to provide assistance in bridging the gap between voluntary and paid work.