Volunteering Matters. Not only was our name change great marketing on our part for perpetual name-dropping opportunities, but as a standalone statement, it is so very true. According to NCVO, an estimated 21.8 million people volunteered at least once in 2014/15. That’s a lot of volunteers! But with the UK population estimated at around 65 million, what are the other 40 odd million doing and why aren’t they getting involved?

It’s summer time (and coincidentally, Volunteers’ week: 1st – 12th June), so we get it if all you want to be doing is getting an English “suntan” in your back garden with a dangerously large glass of alcohol for a weekday. But what about all the benefits you’re missing out on? Yes, you heard me. What benefits are you missing by not volunteering?

Time and time again, we hear how great volunteering is for the beneficiary. Well, I  think this year it’s time to get selfish and so instead of asking; “How can I be a good citizen and help my community?” this Volunteers’ Week, why not ask, “How can I improve myself?” Because that’s the brilliant thing about volunteering, it’s not a one-way street.

Don’t get me wrong, the feeling of giving is pretty special on it’s own. It’s a lot like when you found the perfect present to give on Christmas Day, except it’s not followed by dread when you realise you’re old because you definitely used to prefer getting presents… But what’s even better than that feeling is the bonus of getting something extra; the buy one get one free feeling. You could get new skills, find a new hobby, make new friends, have new experiences or maybe achieve something more life-changing like realising a new career path. So why not give and take this Volunteers’ Week and get involved?

Gone are the excuses of not having enough time, not being able to make a long-term/full-time commitment because luckily for you the volunteering world has changed since the 90s. There’s full-time, part-time, one-off, micro, skills-based and many, many more… So for all you newbies, I’ve saved you the arduous job of writing ‘volunteer’ in the google search bar and provided you my top five ways to get started:

  1. Volunteering Matters: The nifty opportunity finder lets you find local high-impact, social action volunteering experiences which you can then filter by time available and other preferences.
  2. Team London: This one lets you search by London Borough, by skillset, by interests and by priority eg. If you’re passionate about mentoring.
  3. Do-it: The all encompassing volunteering database. You could spend weeks roaming through this, but it’s great to find a one-off project in your local area.
  4. Good Gym: If you want to lose that winter blubber by running and help your community while you do it, then this is the one for you.
  5. Your local volunteer centre: these places are always a great resource of smaller, local opportunities who are often the ones desperately seeking new volunteers. These can be found by a quick google search.