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How to become a volunteer


1st Jan 2015 Life

How to become a volunteer

Once you have decided that you would like to give some of your time to help others, you need to make some decisions.

People take up volunteering for lots of different reasons: some have a sense that they want to 'give something back' whilst others want to meet new people or learn new skills. Whatever the reason, charities in the UK really rely on volunteers because without them, they simply wouldn't be able to carry out their work. 


Choose a charity or organisation

Firstly, what sort of organisation do you want to help? You might have a particular charity in mind - perhaps you have been affected by some of the issues that a charity aims to support, like cancer or children who need help. It might not be a charity you want to volunteer with; many local schools rely on parents or other members of the community who come in regularly to read with the children or help with their maths.


Decide on the kind of work

Once you have decided where you want to volunteer, you then have to decide what sort of volunteer work you want to do. Think about your existing skills: do you prefer hands-on work, are you good with people, do you have a background in administration or secretarial work? Charities need volunteers to work in shops, organise or manage fundraising events, drive vehicles (for instance, to take elderly people to day centres or animals to vets) or, in the case of animal charities, walk dogs or check out foster homes.


Find a position

Now comes the part where you actually look for a volunteering position that matches well with the two decisions you have just made. Most charities have a dedicated website with a section aimed at attracting potential volunteers and they advertise specific roles that are currently available. Other, smaller charities, might not have the IT capabilities or funds to do this (could you offer help to create a website, perhaps?), in which case, you would usually need to phone or visit their offices to find out how you can help. You will be welcomed with open arms!


Apply for suitable positions

Be prepared with information about your previous (or current) employment and the sort of skills you have, so that the charity can match you to the most appropriate role. You might think that you have no such skills - don't let your lack of confidence hamper you, ask your friends and loved ones what they think you have to offer! 

Give the charity your details and ask to be considered for the roles that you are interested in, or just ask if there is anything they think you can do to help, if you have no firm idea about what type of position you would like yet.


Consider how much time you want to commit

Finally, before you apply for a post, think carefully about how much time you want to offer. Don't over-commit and then regret having no spare time. Most charities would prefer you to offer less time regularly than more time every now and again. There will still be posts that suit you if you want to just help out at occasional fundraisers, but most charities (and schools) appreciate a little help every week, fortnight, or month so that they can plan and make the best use out of your valuable time.

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