The importance of Volunteering

Peoples attitude towards volunteering is being transformed, with their willingness to get involved and the
opportunities to support, as a volunteer during furlough, to keep learning and continuously develop.  In our
current situation with Covid-19 we are establishing new patterns and ways of working and caring for each other.

This has resulted in a significant change and approach to volunteering with the Guardian reporting over a million volunteers for the NHS, when the call was only for 250,000.00. It has also impacted communities, with two out of three adults thinking their communities have come closer together.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, volunteer levels had barely shifted nationally for years.  There is now hope that one of the legacies of the pandemic will be an injection of relative youth into what had become a largely older-age volunteer community.

This has resulted in things that felt less important before ‘lockdown’ has taken on more significance as we have never faced anything like this pandemic in living memory and will not do so again in our life time.  Therefore, as the saying goes: ‘Don’t Waste A Good Crisis’ and make the most of your time and energy.

What is going to be your legacy?

During this pandemic we are all learning and adapting from our experiences with Covid-19.   Helping others that need your skills and experience is a positive and constructive response, where you can get involved with volunteering.

We understand that with any volunteering it is not only what you do that is important, though being aware of what you’ve learnt, reflecting on that experience and how you are going to apply it within other voluntary roles or in your workplace, when things do get back to ‘normal’.

We are delighted to partner with Furlonteer, who match volunteers with charities, to support those that have been furloughed and we are offering our online CPD Hub FREE for 3 months. This will allow you to capture and manage your learning and development, so you will be able to review and reflect on your experience and continue to develop.

Benefits of Volunteering

Studies show that volunteering to help others makes you happier and healthier, both physically and mentally.  If you are looking for a challenge or want the opportunity to use your skills, stretch yourself or just give back particularly if you have been furloughed, then consider some of the new experiences you can engage in within the voluntary sector. See our further tips here on our wellbeing and volunteering page with some further links and ideas about charities to work for.   Also here are some key benefits that we feel are important.

Comfort, Stretch and Panic Zone

Although developed initially in adventure activities and games, Rohnke’s zone model has become popular in many arenas, including neurolinguistic programming (NLP), counselling and learning and development.  This model of comfort/stretch/panic can be applied to your methods of working to understand what kind of learning, knowledge and value you are gaining from any voluntary roles, learning and skills development.

Understand your learning zone

The comfort zone

Is exactly that, comfortable.  It is the zone we are in when we are involved in everyday activities and when we are mixing with familiar people.  When most of your activities are in this zone, life is certainly ‘comfortable’ though you do not learn very much or develop yourself. Where your day-to-day routine, subconscious work happens – where you’re on auto-pilot.

The Stretch Zone

This is the area of newness, exploration and adventure and is also know as the learning zone.  In this zone are the activities that are a little or a lot out of the ordinary, activities you haven’t done for a long time or have never done before.  This zone is not really a comfortable place, though it is a stimulating one.  It is where we stretch and challenge ourselves mentally, emotionally or physically. It could include taking on an extra responsibility, volunteering or skills development.  This is the zone where you learn the most.

The Panic Zone

This is the point where activities or situations are beyond ‘stretching and result in a panic response.  This response is involuntary, however, we certainly recognise the point at which we have taken on too much and stretched ourselves too far. The panic zone is critical for survival – it tells us when we are taking a step too far; however, we often have to deal with activities in the panic zone that we wish were not there.  It is also known as the red zone and if we are in it too much we can get burned out.

Training Industry have a good article that supports and further explores the zones.

This model of development recognises that we are dynamic – ie continually changing – and that the activities that sit within each zone are not only different for each of us, though also change within ourselves.   Therefore if you commit to volunteering or an activity that requires learning new skills or behaviours, you will extend your comfort zone and it could be the beginning of a whole new experience.

Enrich your CPD

Continuing professional development is so important for your own progression and volunteering gives you an opportunity to reflect on something new. Our LEAP cycle encourages you to plan your activity, to think about what you have learned from it, to evaluate the impact of your learning, and finally assess what you have learned about yourself. Volunteering gives you the perfect opportunity to put this into practice. You can learn more about the LEAP cycle here.

Develop new skills

The wide range and variation of volunteering roles available means that there are numerous opportunities to develop your skills. These can be technical skills like using new systems and/or personal skills like questioning, listening and confidence. Our Online CPD Hub encourages you to reflect on these skills and commit to plans to develop them even further.

The age old – it looks good on your CV

However, try as we might to avoid this one, volunteering really does look good on your CV and particularly if during furlough you have used your time to volunteer, this demonstrates a selfless and proactive approach.

How Charities Benefit

Having willing volunteers and matching their skills with charities encourages good networks, collaboration and professional development.  Particularly, during this time of furlough the range of skills can add real value at a critical time.  Supporting the volunteers with their continuing professional development, also promotes greater work engagement from the workforce and commitment to job roles. CPD contributes to maximising staff potential, improves staff morale, provides insight to benchmark for further development and sharing of best practice and knowledge.

When you volunteer here is our tool that will help you reflect on your learning and experience

Whether you are volunteering, training or developing new skills, you will gain more if you reflect on that experience ready to apply to your next voluntary role and back at work.  As a business we are supporting those that have been furloughed through partnering with Furlonteer and giving Free use of our Online CPD Hub. Some of the benefits of using our platform, is that it will allow you to capture and manage your learning and development, so you will never forget what you have done and increase your self-awareness.

Additionally, there is a ‘Furlough Group’ where you can collaborate with your peers by being part of this, sharing knowledge and giving each other support.

Online CPD Hub

If you need to know more about what it is and the key features, here is short overview video that highlights them:

How to Access

To get started please go to our website https://www.leaplikeasalmon.comwhere there is a direct link on the top bar ‘Free For Furloughed’. If you click this link it will take you to the sign up page, where you will only need to input your name, email, desired user name and to agree to good practice with the terms and conditions.  We will then set up your account and support you through this journey.

Thanks for reading and please do share and let us know how you get on with any voluntary roles you get involved with. Should you have anything you want to ask us, please do get in touch here:

Check out our Knowledge Base  for further resources and support with our Ask The Experts or stay informed with our social  Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Keep learning and being curious

Karen Waite






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