This week has provided a little more time for reflection regarding how I can continue to promote my theme of ‘Valuing Volunteers’. Having listened to so many volunteers out there who do give up their time, generally with the idea of making the lives of others more bearable, it really does appear to be a two-way street. While helping – be it for a charity, as school governor, a carer, or in whatever capacity – I keep being told that those who do so get a lot back, either through life experience or work skills.
I became aware of how important this facet of volunteering was when delivering awards at the University. It was brought home to me that employers, while expecting potential employees to have the requisite qualifications, were also seeking young people who could be ambassadors for their companies. They were looking for leadership and teamwork skills. Those receiving awards could demonstrate how their volunteering work helped to equip them with these and other competencies.
This was again demonstrated later in the week, when I saw a number of volunteers outside the Guildhall raising money for the Headway charity. They were selling cakes and keeping youngsters amused at a face painting event. The amount they raised went towards buying materials to decorate various rooms at the Headway offices.
I was then able to see exactly what work they were doing at Headway and discovered that as well as painting and general indoor maintenance, one group had cleared a piece of ground that had been full of earth and rubbish to make an outside area available to clients at the charity. The whole enterprise had taken a week and had been arranged by the National Citizen Service, which is open to 15- 17 year olds across England. The programme builds skills for life – it’s one of the best routes I can recommend to help discover why volunteering is so worthwhile.