Good Manual Skills and Caring: What Kind of Voluntary Work?
I am 41 years of age and at a crossroads in my life. Since leaving school 25 years ago I have never really known what career path to take, just been lucky in employment until a few years ago.
I became ill with depression a few years ago and have not had a full time job for 5 years. My illness has since subsided and I feel I need to do something. I am not fully qualified in any aspect of work and applying for vacancies with "no experience" seems to come to a dead end. I thought voluntary work may just help, for my career and my self esteem which is now very low. I am particularly adept using manual skills, maintenance work etc but my caring side makes me think I should lean more that way. Do you have any advice on what voluntary work would suit me and how to go about getting it?
I am sorry to hear about your recent depression and difficulties in applying for work. You are right, voluntary work can be an ideal way to help you get back into work. You can commit to as many or few hours a week as suits you and gradually build your confidence back up by rediscovering that you have a valuable role to play in your community. Not only will you gain experience and new contacts you will also be able to add your volunteering work to your CV. This will help to bring it up to date after your five year break from employment.
You sound like a caring person with many practical skills to offer and there should be plenty of charities and voluntary organisations who would be delighted to have your help. Where would you like to work? You might find it helpful to write a CV if you don’t already have one listing your skills and work experience. This could help you to think about past work which you have enjoyed or new skills which you would like to learn.
Volunteering in social care could work well for you as it combines both your caring and your manual skills You could take on the role of a voluntary carer or personal assistant for an elderly or disabled person. This could involve such tasks as helping them with shopping, cooking or cleaning or accompanying them on trips.
Alternatively you could volunteer in a hospital or day centre supporting patients and assisting nurses or day centre staff. If you would prefer to do something less physical you could consider befriending. You would get to know an older person, disabled person, teenager or child, listen to their problems and share in outings and events with them.
Your own experience of depression may give you empathy with others in a similar situation. You could consider volunteering for a telephone helpline or advice centre supporting people in need of a listening ear or practical advice.
To find out more about these and other opportunities in your area get in touch with your local Voluntary Council or Library and ask for details of organisations looking for volunteers. You could also consider going to college to study for a relevant qualification such as an NVQ in Social Care. Some organisations that you volunteer with may also support you with further training. Good luck