How Can You Help Your Local Community?
It’s estimated that there are 185,000 registered charities in England and Wales, and 5,000 new ones are established every year. Although the UK Civil Society Almanac (NCVO UK) calculates that 19.2 million Britons do some kind of voluntary work at least once a year, the numbers are falling. In 2000, male volunteers spent 12.29 minutes a day doing unpaid work compared to 11.29 in 2015 while women’s total dropped from 16.3 to 15.65 minutes per day on average.
In terms of age groups, nearly two-thirds of fundraising and volunteering is carried out by the retired (31%) and the 16-24-year-olds (32%). The least represented is the 25-34 age group, but it’s thought that at this age people have other demands on their time such as their career and/or settling down.
No matter where you live andyour circumstances, volunteering is something that everyone can do. The first thing is to choose which charity and/or non-for-profit organisation you’d like to support. To decide, you might consider your interests. For example, if you love sport, you could choose to do some coaching with a local team of youngsters.
On the other hand, there are many fundraising activities to help certain groups of people (such as the disabled) or ones suffering from a specific illness. In the UK alone, there are more than 620 charities related to cancer. Volunteers often opt to contribute to such a group because they have/had a loved one with this health problem.
Once you’ve decided on a charitable organisation to help, you have to decide how many hours you can contribute. Some volunteers offer their unpaid work on a weekly basis. If you have a full schedule of work and family commitments, you might decide to help for a weekend every year.
Whatever you choose, it’s important to be realistic about how many hours you can do, treat your voluntary work as if it were a paid job and not back out when it isn’t convenient. If you have doubts, it’s better to start slowly and then build up your hours when you see that you can cope – both physically and mentally.
The benefits of voluntary work to charities are obvious, but there are also benefits for the volunteers themselves. Doing unpaid work can be great for your CV if you’re an undergraduate and haven’t yet built up a great deal of work experience. There are many lifelong skills you can learn including teamwork and time management.
Volunteering can help expand your contacts in the local community with many people of different ages and professions. It can also help you to put down roots if you’ve just moved into a new community and know few people. This can help you get over feelings of isolation. One of the other problems that newcomers often face is a lack of money in an emergency.