This blog comes out of a fascinating conversation about different attitudes to volunteering in different countries. I was told that in some cultures if you volunteer, you are seen as wasting your time, why are you not doing things you are paid for? And you might even be seen as a leftie or a communist! These, I suspect, are countries with strong family ties so any support you give to others is to within the family.
In the UK, we highly value people who volunteer and make a difference to others. Volunteering, is, of course, not paid but we find all kinds of ways of rewarding people for their efforts. The most obvious one is that many larger organisations give up to 5 days volunteering a year to staff. There will be policies in place for how you can use the volunteering and it may be, that you help the charity the organisation has chosen but sometimes, there is lots of flexibility to work with a charity of your choice.
Another way is through the honours system, people who have made a big difference through their volunteering may be given an honour such as an OBE (Order of the British Empire) which is personally given by the Queen.
The value of volunteering is to you, though. If your volunteering takes you into another world, you see the world differently and this can lead to lots of inspiration. It was the experience of volunteering that led me, with others, to set up TogetherintheUK, realising that people who had migrated here needed to hear from others who had made the same journey about what makes for a good and inclusive life in the UK.
So, there are numerous opportunities to volunteer in the UK and lots of schemes. Here are just a few;
• Visiting families who need support
• Helping charities fundraise
• Organising sport
• Supporting the management of a charity by becoming a trustee (a great way of getting Board level experience)
• Visiting people who are isolated
• Volunteering in a hospital, museum or listening to children read in a school.
For many of these roles, you will need a DBS Check (checking that there is nothing that makes you unsuitable for the work) but this is quite straightforward and once you have been through it, you can begin to make a difference and make new friends.
And of course, there are vacancies with TogetheirntheUK. Join us to make a difference to people coming to the UK.