If you find that you have some spare time in your life, however little or how much, you could put that time to good use by volunteering for a charity. Volunteer work could involve feeding dogs and cats, promoting or organising fundraising events, working behind the till in a charity shop or collecting donations in the town centre.
Most charities advertise volunteering positions on their website. The RSPCA, for example, has vacancies on their website (www.rspca.org.uk) for volunteer drivers, fosterers, home visitors, gardeners, branch trustees and people to help to update and maintain the websites of local branches. With such a variety of options available, how do you start searching for a post that suits you?
Most vacancies are organised according to location, because charities recognise that few people are going to be prepared to travel considerable distances to work for free. Plus, it would be a waste of time having a volunteer travel for an hour each way, when those two hours could be spent actually helping. So the first thing to do is see what positions are available close to where you live.
Then think about what skills you already have. Are you a ‘people’ person – are you good at communicating with others and enjoy meeting new people? Do you prefer to work alone and are better at individual projects? If you want to work for an animal charity, do you want to work with the animals directly or are you happy to help the charity knowing that everything the charity does will support animals?
You may feel as though you don’t have any skills to offer. People who do not work often feel that they have nothing to offer and have no confidence in themselves. In fact, volunteering can often reignite or spark confidence: just taking that step of contacting a charity and spending an hour or so helping out and learning new skills can be invigorating and give you a real sense of purpose.
It is sensible to choose a charity that you feel strongly about, so that you know that everything you are doing will help someone or something that you believe deserves that help. That motivation can be very powerful, especially on cold, rainy mornings when it might be easier to turn over and go back to sleep rather than venture out: knowing that if you don’t turn up the dogs in the shelter won’t get to see you and play with you can be good at persuading you to get up. Feeling needed is a very important part of developing and improving self-esteem and there is no doubt that your chosen charity and all those it works to support need you!
It may take some time and a few false starts before you find the volunteering role within your chosen charity that makes the best of your skills and that you thoroughly enjoy. But whatever role you have it will be valuable and you will feel valued and your extra time will turn out to be time very well spent.