Happy Volunteer’s Week everybody! 1st – 7th June is officially the time to celebrate the impact of volunteering up and down the UK, and give a pat on the back to all the amazing people in the UK who dedicate their time to helping others.

In the spirit of Voluteers Week, we decided to investigate the ways in which volunteers  can use their experience to give their career a boost.

“Volunteering is a great way of picking up new skills and getting experience as well as learning how to work with other people effectively,” Catherine Bishop, director of programmes at National Youth Agency told us. “Our NCS programme has shown us that young people have huge enthusiasm for social action and wanting to ‘put something back’ into their communities, and this has led many onto new opportunities, developing their entrepreneurial skills in social enterprises and ideas for business start-ups.”

“On a personal note, I volunteer for a number of charities,” Catherine added. “It’s a way to utilise my skills for good whilst also giving me unique insights into how other organisations operate and the challenges they face. In short, I believe volunteering makes me better at my job.”

We asked some young volunteers how their experiences became a useful part of their career journeys…

Perspective

For Alex, a 24-year-old Partnerships Coordinator at Go Think Big, volunteering helped to expand his network of contacts and even helped him figure out what to do with his life. “I previously ran projects with vInspired on youth homelessness and mental health and off the back of that, I managed to get an internship at Citizens UK,” he told us. “I had just dropped out of uni when I started volunteering and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Volunteering helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to do for a career and really helped to grow my confidence, particularly in social situations, which I always struggled with. Now, it’s grown my networks massively and has helped me to land a phenomenal job at Think Big where I’m also getting qualified as a youth worker.”

A purpose

“Without volunteering I wouldn’t have gotten to university or the job I’m in,” John, a 23-year-old Parliamentary Intern told us. He’s a National Lottery and vInspired ambassador and has volunteered with the Scouts and Mental Wealth. “I’d say volunteering saved my life. I joined Scouts when I was 14. Over the next few years I ended up homeless, without family, and struggling to find a reason to carry on. Being a young leader in Scouts gave me a purpose and a reason to fight. Since then Team v with vInspired has helped me build up my leadership and organisational skills and given me a can-do attitude that helped me get a space on the extremely competitive Speaker’s Scheme in parliament. Volunteering gave me a lifeline when I was at my lowest, and lifted me higher when I needed that little extra push.”

Confidence

Amira Haque, Student Midwife and founder of Active Cambridge told us that volunteering gave her the confidence she needs to get her job done day to day. “Without volunteering I wouldn’t be the person I am!” said Amira. “I can publicly speak and present because of the confidence I gained through volunteering.”

Catherine, a Student Nurse, agrees: “without volunteering I wouldn’t have had the confidence to try for nursing again! It gave me people skills and it was looked on well by my university.”

A stand out job application

“I’m never short of things to talk about at interview thanks to the various things I’ve done and challenges I’ve overcome through volunteering,” Naomi, a 22-year-old Peer Support Worker told us. “It’s also given me a whole network of people all over the UK who are doing lots of interesting things, which has helped me to find jobs in the first place.”

Skills

“I started volunteering 14 years ago, and all of that has helped me to get into my dream job,” said Jo. “I found my love for working with film and digital, and my passion for inspiring and helping young people, all through volunteering. I’m now a teacher in a secondary school in inner London where some of the girls I work with are from very deprived areas, we inspire them to be anything they want to be and do anything they want to do. I absolutely love my job – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Want to make a difference? We can help! If you’re passionate about mental health and have got an idea about how you could improve it in your community, whether that’s among your friends, in the online world, or in your local area, we can give you the money and support to make it happen. Apply for a £500 grant to get your idea off the ground by 8th June 2017! 

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