Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As Volunteers’ Week once again has come and gone It has got me thinking how important volunteering is for people and for many organisations who host these volunteers. As a volunteer I have found the experience of volunteering invaluable. I have gained new skills and even improved other skills that I already had. I have even found I have been able to improve aspects of myself which before I volunteered were lacking. Bearing the above in mind; I would encourage anyone that suffers from mental health issues or has been unemployed for an extended period to give voluntary work a try. You might find that you are more interested in a certain sector of work that you had previously dismissed without a thought or you might even find that new opportunities open up for you.
I know that there are people who have the point of view that voluntary work is a dead end and can’t possibly help you further your working career. While I’ll admit I do know of people who have been looking for work and volunteering for a long time and yet still have had no luck in finding work. I do feel that it’s not the fact they are volunteering which has prevented them from finding paid employment but that it is due to a combination of other factors. Such as there was a person better for the position that they applied for or another person might have been more flexible with working hours than the person who is volunteering.
I feel that volunteering helps in that it gives an individual a great opportunity for personal development but it can also open some new doors that might have been out of reach previously.
Personally, I volunteer for St John Ambulance. I also suffer from depression amongst other issues. Since starting to volunteer in October there have been massive improvements in my life. At my induction, I was very nervous in all situations and I panicked whenever I was in a situation where I had to talk to people. Even after my induction period was completed I was still finding that I had issues that I thought I had got over years before I even thought of volunteering with St John. Some of these issues, such as physical contact with others due to a former abusive relationship I was in. Since I discovered that this was still an issue I was supported as much as possible by some of my unit and other people that came into my life. This has helped me to in the main move on from this issue. I have also found that I am now much more confident in general and that I can keep a conversation going with people that I have never met before.
So for me volunteering has been very, very important in my development as a person.