Traditionally, volunteer work has been seen as a way to give your time, skills, and experience to help a good cause. While this is true, we believe it can offer so much more than this.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”
Volunteering can help add to your professional development, supplement your wellbeing as well as help you discover where your true passions lie. As we celebrate Volunteer day this December we wanted to share with you why we’re big fans of volunteering here at Leap Like A Salmon. We actively encourage our members to get involved in volunteer work as it gives you the opportunity to enrich your learning and development through varied activities and roles available. Activities and roles that might not always be open to you in your day to day professional role. See volunteering as a way to supplement your skills and experience environments and situations that are beyond the daily norm. Once you start to push yourself you’ll soon realise what you’re capable of.
If you are looking for a challenge or want the opportunity to use your skills to help others, stretch yourself or just give back, then consider some of the new experiences you can engage in within the voluntary sector.
How volunteering can benefit your professional development and wellbeing
Volunteering is a great way to enrich your professional development giving you access to new environments, helping you build a diverse group of contacts, and maintain perspective. As we adjust to a new world of working from home it will also help maintain motivation and create fresh experiences that you could be craving.
Furthermore, time spent volunteering can be logged as professional development, through volunteer work you’ll be sure to learn more about your individual strengths and weaknesses. Reflecting on your volunteer experiences and documenting your skills using an online CPD platform will help you track your progress and will enrich your volunteering experience.
It’s also a well-known fact that volunteering your time to help others who may be less fortunate can help create a sense of fulfillment and self-empowerment. The Help Guide believes volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. Certain aspects of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. The Leap Like A Salmon Wellbeing Wheel is a tool that can help you track your wellbeing, if you start a volunteer position we strongly recommend updating your wellbeing wheel regularly to see the positive impact volunteering is having on your overall wellbeing – the results might surprise you!
Volunteering during COVID-19
We’re big supporters of Furlunteer.org.uk here at Leap Like A Salmon. It is an initiative that was set up to connect furloughed individuals with charities in need of extra support during the Coronavirus pandemic. Those on furlough can use the Leap Like A Salmon platform for free to make use of our CV template, record and reflect on learning from any training and volunteering, as well as being part of the ‘Furlough Group’ where you can share knowledge and give each other support during these uncertain times. If you’ve been furloughed, click here to find out more about using our online professional development platform to record your volunteering work.
Here are four tips from Furlunteer on how to decide where to volunteer:
1. Look for opportunities to use your skills and experience that are both good for you and the organisation you’re helping.
2. Write a list about what you want to gain from the experience and focus your outreach to charities that fit in with your aims.
3. Look to the future, Furlunteering is not just for coronavirus. The relationships you build now can continue past Covid-19. Can you commit long term?
4. A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there. Use the time spent volunteering to develop existing skills in a new context and in an experiential way, practice being agile, creative and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Other things to consider include…
Your time is one of the greatest gifts you can give
Figure out how much time you have to commit to volunteering. Can you realistically commit to a weekly session mentoring disadvantaged young people to boost their educational opportunities? Or if you want to volunteer but you’re not yet sure how much time you can commit, what about micro-volunteering? This provides a more accessible form of volunteering which is increasingly sought after.
Link volunteering with your passions
If you choose a sector that you’re passionate about, the likelihood is you’ll be more committed to the volunteer role. Many charities rely on volunteers to function so the likelihood is they’ll be pleased you’re choosing to volunteer your time with them.
Put your skills to best use
Where could your skills and experience have the biggest impact? Where can you add value for a charitable organisation?
Get support from your employer
Does your employer offer paid volunteering leave? This is a key question to consider, especially if you’re currently on furlough – can the voluntary position continue once you return to work? Those that do are keen to demonstrate and support their corporate social responsibility. Talk to your employer about your plans and see where you stand.
Where to look for volunteering opportunities?
Local charities and organisations often post on their website or social media recruiting for volunteers. You can also make yourself aware of national volunteer opportunities through organisations such as Do-It or through gov.uk.
Thanks for reading, please do share this blog if you’ve enjoyed reading it and let us know if this blog encouraged you to start volunteering. Should you have anything you want to ask us, please do get in touch here.