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Why volunteer?

29 January 2016

Make a difference – try something new, learn new skills or spend more time doing the things you love.

A few years ago, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations(NCVO)’ Emily Graham’s own resolution was to start volunteering. And so on a cold, foggy January day, she began volunteering with Refugee Action York (RAY).

Why volunteer?

Group of people at a refugee centre

Refugee Action York

Why did I volunteer? I wanted to do something new, meet new people and get to know my city better – in a way that mattered. Most people want to volunteer to improve things or help people. This is a good place to start thinking about volunteering; what sort of cause or organisation would you like to help?

I began volunteering to provide information and support to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, but quickly became involved in the wider activities. I helped with sessions for children and young people, organised events and soon felt part of the community. I can think of no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than at RAY’s bring-and-share community meal.

Volunteers tell us that they get enjoyment, satisfaction and a sense of achievement from giving their time, as well as broadening their life experiences. I definitely gained a lot from volunteering – probably more than I gave.

My volunteering experience developed key skills that I use every day in my job, like communication and team working.  If you are hoping that 2016 will bring a new job (or promotion), then volunteering can help you develop skills, confidence and explore different options. It is also worth thinking about what skills you have to offer already; what are you good at? The most important attributes, however, have to be commitment and common sense. There is definitely something for everyone.

We hear that lack of time is the main reason why people don’t feel able to volunteer, mostly due to work or childcare commitments. Volunteering can take less time than you think, with organisations offering more creative and flexible opportunities to get. How much time do you have to give? Work out how much time you have and be clear about this from the outset.

I found that volunteering helped me make time in my life for things that matter. Combine your volunteering with other passions and interests, like keeping fit, being outdoors, cooking, or fashion. My friend has just started volunteering at a community choir, because she loves singing. Pick something you care about and get started!

For more tips about getting started, take a look at our “how to volunteer” guide on KnowHow.

Find the opportunity for you

Participate in #BigVolunteer

Find volunteering opportunities through the #BigVolunteer campaign. Learn more on the Big Lottery Fund’s blog.

NCVO Volunteer Centre promo

Contact your local Volunteer Centre

If you want to find an opportunity in your local area, this is an ideal place to start. Volunteer Centres can find out what you are interested in doing, and try to match you with a suitable volunteering role with a local charity or voluntary organisation.

Search for your local Volunteer Centre on our online map.

Look online

Do-it is the national database of volunteering opportunities. You can search more than 1 million opportunities by interest, activity or location. Visit Do-it to start searching for a volunteering opportunity.

You can also look for volunteering opportunities on CharityJOB, which advertises charity jobs and volunteering opportunities. Search CharityJOB to look for opportunities.

For more information, take a look at the ‘I want to volunteer’ page on the NCVO website.

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