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Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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3 Do you want to volunteer?

Described image
Figure 3 Short-term volunteering may become long term

In Week 7 you explored the various reasons why people choose to volunteer. For many, volunteering has an altruistic element but they also need to derive satisfaction and interest from the role, otherwise they will not continue to volunteer no matter how committed they are to the organisation or to the people involved. If you do not enjoy something or see it as worthwhile, why would you turn up again and again?

Volunteering can also offer other benefits. For example, volunteering is believed to be good for your mental and physical health – giving people the opportunity to make new friends, keep busy and feel appreciated. Some roles are physically active, such as gardening. Some volunteer roles are short term, such as for one-off events or while between jobs or other commitments. Other roles are long term – although many people probably do not think about the length of time they intend to spend volunteering.

The next activity illustrates the benefits or positive outcomes of volunteering for both individuals and society.

Activity 5 Benefits of volunteering

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Read this blog entry about the positive features of volunteering and note down those that appeal to you, whether you are considering volunteering for the first time or currently volunteering.

10 things I learnt during Volunteers’ Week

Posted on June 8, 2015 by Justin Davis Smith

As another hugely successful Volunteers’ Week draws to a close I thought I would look back and reflect on 10 new things about volunteering I learnt over the past seven days.

Over a third of us would be interested in volunteering for the NHS

A new survey by ICM for RVS [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] has found that 40% of adults would be interested in volunteering for the health service, with the most popular activities being helping out in a shop or café, taking patients out on social visits, hospital visiting, or assisting on the ward.

Volunteers play an important role in strengthening democracy

A new report from CDF, Trust in Democracy: how community groups bridge the gap between people and politics, reveals that volunteers are almost 50% more likely to feel they have an influence over local political structures. And many people involved in community activity use it as a grounding to go into more formal political roles.

Volunteering will impress future employers

According to a study from the employment consultants Universum employers are less impressed by your qualifications and which university you went to and more taken with the skills and experience you have learnt through volunteering and work experience.

Volunteering is one of five lifestyle choices guaranteed to make us happier

According to Professor Paul Dolan who was speaking at this Year’s Hay festival. The others are listening to a favourite piece of music, spending five minutes with someone you like, going outdoors, and having a new experience. It got me thinking that someone volunteering at Glastonbury for the first time with a friend might be able to clock up all five at the same time? Prof Dolan leaves us with the following natty sound-bite: ‘helping other people is a very selfish thing to do. It’s a good source of happiness for you. Just randomly help someone and see the difference’.

Young people who take part in volunteer projects are more willing to participate in volunteering again….

…. but less likely to donate to charity, according to a new study published by the Cabinet Office.

We are getting better at recognising the contribution of volunteers

There were 187 recipients of the Queens Award for Voluntary Service this year, up 60% on last year, recognising the contribution volunteers make in all walks of life, from helping us remember Britain’s worst mining disaster to a volunteer rescue boat service on Loch Lomond.

Employer-supported volunteering is on the rise

According to latest figures from the Community Life Survey featured in this year’s Civil Society Almanac published by NCVO today. However, although volunteering remains strong, with 27% of adults in 2013/14 (the latest year for which figures are available) having taken part at least once a month through an organisation and 41% at least once a year, participation has dipped slightly from the previous year’s figures of 29% and 44% respectively.

The new influx of MPs seem to have got the volunteering bug

61 Members signed up to an Early Day Motion welcoming Volunteers’ Week and celebrating the value of volunteering and ‘the promotion of civic democracy based on the principles of freedom of expression and association’ which ‘supports and enhances life in the communities of the UK’. As of Sunday 7 June this was the best supported EDM this Session. Oh and worth noting that 41 of the 61 signatories came from the Scottish National Party, so further work to do with our parliamentarians in the rest of the UK.

More than a billion people volunteer globally

So says the latest State of the World’s Volunteerism Report, published by the United Nations. The report praises some governments such as Peru, Mozambique and Norway for developing a ‘supportive environment’ for volunteering, but criticises others for failing to acknowledge ‘the immense potential of volunteers to help them chart a more successful development path’.

And finally

Volunteering is more popular than ‘Britain’s Got Talent’

Well on Monday Volunteers’ Week was trending number two on Twitter, ahead of Britain’s Got Talent Final 2015, making the point perhaps that volunteering is the greatest demonstration of the UK’s talent. At one stage during the Week we were trending at number one in London and Birmingham, number two in the UK and an incredible number eight in the world!

Thanks to everyone for your contribution to the Week and the biggest thanks of course to the brilliant volunteers.

(Smith, 2015)
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The idea of feeling happy due to volunteering is certainly appealing. For many, the possibility that it will help in getting paid work is also positive. Many people will continue to volunteer even if they have paid work and, as the article highlights, employer-supported volunteering is on the rise.