How to look for Voluntary Work
There are many ways you can go about looking for voluntary work and the methods you adopt will often depend on the type of work you want to do and where you want to do it. Here is list of ways in which you can find voluntary work opportunities although it’s by no means exhaustive and you might also choose to integrate your own strategies as you find out more information through doing your own research.
Volunteering LocallyYou may have already decided that the kind of voluntary work you want to undertake can be found almost on your doorstep. It might be a school, local medical facility, a dog’s home, a community centre etc. In this instance, you should either telephone the organisation to find out more or why not even pay them a visit? Alternatively, you may already belong to a local network of friends, work colleagues, neighbours or even family members who may be able to help you find a volunteering opportunity.
Volunteer DatabaseThere are several internet databases of UK volunteering opportunities. These are useful for searching opportunities by postcode, type of work and type of organisation so you can do a local search or even one many miles away.
The MediaThe Guardian newspaper tends to devote a section to volunteering opportunities each Wednesday and you may want to check out your local TV and radio stations too who will often set aside some time each week to focus on volunteering opportunities within your region.
Local LibraryAsk your local library if they have a notice board that features voluntary opportunities in your area or be even more pro-active and ask them if you can put up a notice yourself offering your services. This can be especially useful if the kind of unpaid work you’re looking to do doesn’t fit into any strictly defined category.
You’d be surprised just how many visitors to libraries will find time to spare a few minutes to make sure they look at their parish notice board. The library should also probably keep a copy of ‘The Voluntary Agencies Directory’, which is a useful resource if you know the type of work you wish to do.
Older Voluntary WorkersA positive aspect about the world of voluntary work is that, unlike the jobs market, it tends to be non-discriminatory towards older people and, moreover, it highly values the skills and qualities that a more senior person is often able to provide as well as gaining a lot from their experience and maturity. Therefore, if you fall into that category, don’t be put off applying for any type of voluntary work with any organisation just because of your age.
That said, if you feel more comfortable working alongside people of a similar age, the organisation RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme) might feel more comfortable to you.
The number of resources for general voluntary work and more specifically targeted types of voluntary work, for example working with animals, working with the elderly, working in hospitals etc., are almost unlimited on the internet and it’s simply a case of putting the research time in. ‘Volunteering England’ and also the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) are useful places to start and, of course, Scotland, Ireland and Wales have similar organisations of their own.
The simple fact is, however, that if you are committed and passionate about a particular charity or cause, if you do your research and have the right qualities, it won’t be long before you, too, are reaping the benefits of working as a volunteer and you’ll often find that what you get out of the experience is worth far more than the time and effort you’ll put in.