Now that I have finished university and am beginning to settle into my new job (although I still have moments of panic and feeling that I don't know what I'm doing), I am thinking about my time outside of work and how I want to fill it. I still help support my Mum and Grandad but this is now more likely to be over the weekend so that my parents can have some time together away from their caring responsibilities. I have noticed that if I don't have plans for my evenings I am not strict with myself about leaving work on time and can stay until 6pm or later, by the time I get home my evening appears to disappear in a blur of tv.
In my 30 before 30 list I have said that I would like to do some volunteering and support a cause. I think these two things can be the same as well as being different. Obviously by volunteering for an organisation you are supporting their cause but I would also like to be involved in campaigning for a cause and support change in policy and legislation. I enjoy volunteering because I see this more as working with the individuals you are supporting, although this does not always have to be the case.
Some people ask me why I give to charity, either financially or through volunteering.
However, is it really that simple?
Volunteering as well as my paid job gives purpose to my life, what I do is part of my identity, part of who I am. The part of me that is the type of person I want to be (there are other areas of myself that I want to work on). It makes me feel worthwhile.
Being involved in supporting charitable work has also given me a lot of other things too. It helps and reminds me to be appreciative of my life, to value what and who I have rather than focusing on what I don't. Volunteering has aided my understanding and challenged my perspective on a number of issues such as addiction and homelessness and allowed me to grow as a person. My 30 before 30 also included meeting new people and making more friends, volunteering is a good opportunity for this.
Other reasons to volunteer
Health benefits: a study by United Healthcare found that 94% of people who volunteered in the last 12 months say that volunteering improves their mood, 96% says volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life, 78% says that volunteering lowers their stress levels*
Employment: the study above also found that 49% of people said that volunteering has helped with their career in the paid job market and 87% felt that it had developed their people and teamwork skills. I think that you can also learn about an area of work through volunteering and gain valuable experience and understanding before applying for a paid position. It can also allow you the time to see whether the role is for you or not.
Have you volunteered before? What were your experiences?