The importance of the role of a twenty-first century volunteer is one which is often discussed and debated but the core values and principles are the same. The definition of ‘volunteer’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.’
Throughout my experience as a volunteer, I have learned so much; Not only technologies or managerial/organisational skills, but interpersonal skills for self development, boosting confidence and recognising how your behaviour can have a positive influence on others.
Volunteering enables you to connect with new people. The reasons people volunteer are vast. For some it is because they feel empowered to give something back to their communities, for others it might be to undertake a new challenge, learn new skills or broaden knowledge. NCVO (the National Council for Voluntary Organisations) in England provides a list of reasons people may volunteer and also highlights why volunteering is so important.
Joyce Bertram at Middle of Nowhere gave a motivating talk at TEDxVilnius, describing how volunteerism can change your world. I would really recommend watching this TEDx Event as Joyce really touches on a story that I think we can all relate to.
Joyce grew up in The Netherlands where she started to volunteer at the age of fourteen. At this age she got the first sparkle of passion for Volunteerism and it’s culture. Before reaching the age of thirty, she changed volunteering into a paid job position.
Joyce says: “We might have all heard people say this and we might have said it ourselves from time to time, which is: why is nobody doing this? Why is this not a project? I wish someone would take this thing that I care about and turn it into something I can contribute to.”
“In the community that I am a part of, we have a pretty simple answer to that – I can’t wait to see you do it”, Joyce adds.
That line is incredibly powerful. So if you have that burning desire, the itch that you’re desperate to scratch away but is just out of your reach, to change lives or to benefit someone or make a positive impact on society – take the plunge. Grab the back scratcher and reach into your imagination and volunteer for a cause that you are passionate about, and if the cause does not exist, make it exist.
Before I became a volunteer and later, trustee at a local and a national charity, I used to be a member of the Charities Committee at my secondary school, The Warriner School in Bloxham, a large village just southwest of Banbury. I suppose that is really where my taste buds became accustomed to volunteering, we would organise several events throughout the year to raise money for various charities. In its latter years, I continued supporting the Charities Committee right up until I completed my GCSEs. I wonder what became of it, or if it still exists?!
After leaving school I dabbled in a few volunteering challenges but my most memorable and my favourite to date has to have been becoming an Olympic Torch Marshall when the torch travelled around the length and breadth of the UK and came to a village called Kirtlington, just south of Banbury.
Combined with my passion for getting my teeth stuck into new challenges, I think volunteering will be something I will continue to do throughout my life in one capacity or another. Whilst at the moment, I am enjoying my roles at Radio Horton and the Hospital Broadcasting Association, who knows what is around the next corner? I’m incredibly excited to be part of the Young Trustees Movement and everything that holds.
I hope this has given you some food for thought and perhaps you can be the next person on this planet to make a difference. Over on my blog, I will be writing more detailed stories about my volunteering journey. You can also get in touch with me, why not let me know your stories or share top tips on making the leap into the voluntary sector.