Volunteering - What's it all about?
Volunteering simply means giving up your own time (as little or as much as you like) to help others (individuals, groups, communities), without getting paid (apart from expenses).
As well as the satisfaction gained from spending time helping others, there are huge benefits for you too. Volunteering is a great way to:
- meet new people and be part of a team
- develop new skills
- gain valuable experience
- receive free training, and of course…
- have FUN!
Volunteering doesn't have to involve the traditional idea of working in a charity shop (unless you want to!). It can give you a chance to build on what you're already into or get support to develop your own ideas for a project that benefits your community.
Once you start volunteering you can usually expect to receive out of pocket expenses (eg. travel, lunch); training in preparation for your role, and appropriate support. There may also be opportunities to gain a qualification or other forms of accreditation to add to your CV.
Further information on volunteering, benefits and expenses is available at the Directgov website >>
Volunteer overseas with Raleigh – over 300 bursary awards still available
The Raleigh Graduate Bursary Award assists recent graduates from lower income families to undertake a 10 week overseas expedition with Raleigh, giving them a unique opportunity to develop key employability skills.
The Graduate Bursary Award part- funds the cost of a Raleigh expedition to Borneo, Costa Rica & Nicaragua, or India and over 300 Bursary places are available from Summer 2010 until Spring 2011. Graduates will gain the opportunity to contribute to community and environmental work in remote communities with a challenging adventure phase, and will be required to fundraise £1000 towards the expedition and pay for flights, vaccinations and kit.
Tim Eklund was awarded the Raleigh Graduate Bursary Award and went on expedition to Borneo in Autumn 2009:
"Before Raleigh I was unemployed, newly graduated and refusing to go on benefits. For me, I’m much more flexible now than I was before and take things more as they come. I think Raleigh has given me the opportunity to demonstrate skills like leadership, communication and teamwork in different scenarios. If I were to be asked typical interview questions I could talk all day about the experiences on Raleigh.
I can’t summarize and do my experience justice in a short sentence. The Raleigh experience is simply out of the ordinary, challenging, and a great opportunity for ventures and project managers alike."
For more information about this award, and to find out if you are eligible to apply, visit the Raleigh website >>
Volunteering is, as the word suggests, voluntary! That means you can decide for yourself how much or how little time to give up and the length of time you commit to. Even those working full-time and with a busy lifestyle should still be able to find something that suits.
A few more reasons why you should give it a try…
'The good thing about volunteering is that anyone can get involved no matter what their ability'
'I have achieved things I never could have thought possible'
'I've made lots of new friends while helping people in my community'
'I've had a fantastic time volunteering and learnt a lot about myself'
'Working with volunteers from different backgrounds has made me much more aware of cultural issues'
'The workers helped, encouraged and pushed us to do new things'
British Youth Council
The British Youth Council (BYC) is the National Youth Council of the UK. BYC promotes the active citizenship of young people and works with them to develop their skills and abilities to participate in decision-making and controlling resources, encouraging them to work together and to take collective action.
The Citizenship Foundation promotes citizenship education through a wide range of programmes, particularly in the fields of law and the legal system, human rights, education for democracy and moral and critical thinking. Also offers advice and resources for young people interested in taking action in their communities and training for running your own community project.
CSV (Community Service Volunteers)
CSV places young people aged 16 and over in voluntary placements away from home (in the UK or abroad) for between four months and a year. CSV’s Global Exchange Programme is a six-month programme which gives young people from different countries a unique opportunity to work together and make a practical contribution to local communities.
A national database for young people's volunteering which allows you to browse the range opportunities available in your area and apply on-line.
TheSite is designed to connect, principally young people in the UK to the best information, help and advice available. It tries to enable people to make informed decisions for themselves and strive to be the best they can. See also the Volunteering area of TheSite which provides advice and information on how to take action and make positive changes through national or global campaigns and a database of ‘virtual volunteering opportunities’ (online).
TheSIte has made its Local Advice Finder (LAF) database accessible on mobiles. Young people can now go to TheSite on their mobiles to find information and support safely and confidentially, putting all the information they need into their hands.
The Young Timebank 'Energise' website is aimed at young people aged 11-19. It provides details of local organisations matching your area of interest.
Telephone: 020 7785 6374
Address: 2nd Floor, Downstream Building, London Bridge, London, SE1 9BG.
Independent charity championing youth volunteering in England. Young people’s site, vinspired is aimed at 16 to 25-year-olds in England and features a volunteering opportunities search facility (based on postcode), blogs, images, Q & A forums and case studies.
Helpline: Hotline - 0800 089 9000 or txt 'v' to 80010 and someone will call you back
Telephone: 0207 960 7000
Address: 5th floor, Dean Bradley House, 52 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AF.
The national volunteer development organisation for England. Offers advice and support to those interested in becoming a volunteer and a range of contacts and resources aimed specifically at young volunteers. This website also includes an area dedicated to Student Volunteering.
Youth Action Network
You may want to develop your own community projects, or to volunteer with other young people. If so, there may be a local organisation which specialises in supporting young people's involvement in their communities. Visit the website for a simple guide on how to set up your own project, including sources of funding, and access to a database of local projects that support young people to take action in their communities.