People who get involved in voluntary work find that it can make you feel good about yourself and learn new skills, as well as helping others and having fun.
There’s an amazing variety of voluntary opportunities in your local community, such as helping children, organising a fringe theatre group or lending a hand on a community newspaper. Or, if you don’t feel you can give time on a regular basis, there are voluntary projects and holidays that might interest you, these include opportunities abroad and in the UK. You might need to fund-raise before your trip though to pay for your expenses.
Let’s not forget that volunteering looks good on your CV. Employers often recognise that you can learn new skills useful for career progression, such as team-working, decision making and communication. And remember that any job you are looking for can be found in volunteering – marketing, fundraising, media, IT etc.
You should think about creating a portfolio of your achievements to prove what you have learnt during your time at the organisation and then you can use it to sell yourself at any interviews you have.
Volunteering in your local community:
V is an independant charity championing youth volunteering in England. Their aim is to inspire more young people aged 16-25 to volunteer and then make grants to local organisations to make volunteering opportunities available to them. To see what is available in your area check out www.vinspired.com
The Do-it! website is run by YouthNet UK. The Do-It! website makes it easy to search for opportunities in your area involving things that interest you at times when you are available. So finding the right project for you is easy. You’ll be surprised how many different kinds of volunteering there are near you.
Youth Action is a successful and innovative approach to youth volunteering. It enables thousands of young people across the country to become active in their own time to meet other young people, gain skills, have fun and put into reality their ideas and priorities that are of benefit to their own communities. Youth Action gives young people real opportunities to play a key role in the design, delivery and evaluation of projects.
There’s an exciting range of holiday possibilities available in the UK and abroad, including conservation and charity projects. Prices vary as these usually involve paying ‘contribution’ to the overall cost, and it can be expensive. However, organisations often include a fund-raising pack which can help to ease the costs or you could raise payment in full.
Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)
Check out the Youth for Development zone on the VSO website. There’s a range of challenging, highly rewarding projects especially for committed 18-25 year olds based in areas such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Uganda. Projects generally focus on improving education and quality of life within communities in deprived areas.
You’ll need to go through an application process including an assessment day. Successful candidates then need to fund-raise a set contribution for the trip – don’t worry, they have lots of ideas on how to raise the cash.
If you love nature, wildlife or history, you may be interested in a conservation project holiday in beautiful settings across Britain. There are Youth Discovery holidays for young people aged 16 -18 and working holidays if you’re over 18, which are available all year round.
You’ll be involved in hands-on conservation projects and need to pay for your accommodation and food. Youth Discovery holidays cost from £50, depending on which holiday you choose. Here are a few examples of what you could do:
- Work in the grounds of a Fallow Deer Sanctuary
- Learn to rebuild dry-stone walls in an ancient abbey
- Hands on work in an archaeological dig
- Woodland conservation in the grounds of a stately home.
Jubilee Sailing Trust
The Jubilee Sailing Trust offers worldwide working sailing holidays for both physically disabled and able-bodied people. No sailing experience is needed – you’ll be shown the ropes by your mentor and everyone looks out for everyone else.
The Youth Leadership Scheme
If you’re between 16-25 you can apply to join the Youth Leadership Scheme. And if you manage to raise more than the cost of your voyage, which involves spending one or two weeks working on a ship as an active member of the crew, you will be able to use this towards a future voyage, or to sponsor another young person to take part.
Here’s what you can expect during your working holiday:
- You’ll be paired with a suitable ‘Buddy’ so that you can look out for each others’ needs and face the challenges together
- You will spend a week or two on a tall ship, working as an active member of the crew, day and night
- On completion of the course you will be given a certificate as a record of your achievement
- It can also count as your Duke of Edinburgh’s ‘Residential Gold Award’.
Volunteering for your CV
As well as being a great opportunity to give something back and contribute to the community, volunteering looks fantastic on your CV and is an excellent way of improving your employability for any job you apply for in the future.
In addition to showing your generous side, volunteering can demonstrate that you have a wide range of interests, are self-motivated and are a sociable person – all impressive points to highlight on a CV!
As well as this, it’s great work experience and could help you decide what you want to do in the future; giving you a kick-start into your eventual career.
Who can help?
Visit the Do It! website at www.do-it.org.uk. They have a massive database of volunteering opportunities all across the country.
The V’s website at www.vinspired.com also has a great range of vacancies that you can search to find the right one for you.
Are you aged 16+? Take a look at the CSV website and have a look at the full time volunteering opportunities for people who want to take a gap year, improve their skills, gain work experience or just have a great time! www.csv.org.uk/fulltimevolunteering
If volunteering abroad appeals to you visit the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) website.
The Project Trust is for young people aged 17-19 and is a gap year organisation which can help school leavers to go abroad for a year’s voluntary work www.projecttrust.org.uk
For more information about Youth Funding have a look at www.direct.gov.uk/en/YoungPeople/Youthfunds/DG_067060
Aged 17+? An overseas expedition with Raleigh International will give you hands-on experience of working on community and environmental projects, plus an adventure challenge which will push you to the limit. For more info, visit www.raleighinternational.org
Trekforce Expeditions offer inspirational and challenging conservation expeditions, language courses and teaching placements in Central and South America and South East Asia. www.trekforce.org.uk
Other organisations which list volunteering opportunities include Youth Action who can be contacted at www.youth-action.org.uk, the National Trust who can be contacted at www.nationaltrust.org.uk and the Jubilee Sailing Trust who can be contacted at http://www.jst.org.uk/.