By: Emily Maybanks
Each year, from 1st to 7th June, Volunteers’ Week is recognised and celebrated nationally. It is “a long-standing, popular event in the voluntary sector, established in 1984.” Volunteers’ Week is a “chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.” Volunteers are people who give their time to a cause or a charity in order to help to make a difference to lives. Volunteers’ Week is also an “opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.” Furthermore, this year, Volunteers’ Week focusses on volunteering for all and aims to celebrate and give recognition to those who give their time in a wide range of ways.
Volunteering is generally described as “an unpaid activity where someone gives their time to help a not-for-profit organisation”, such as a charity. It also describes the various different activities that people choose to get involved with in order to benefit and support the wider community. There are so many ways that everyone can get involved as a volunteer these days. Furthermore, in this day and age, volunteering can be done from the comfort of your own home with an increasing demand for online volunteers. Volunteering via the Internet can come in many forms, including teaching English to people overseas using software like Skype; other ways to volunteer online involve activities such as translation, editing work, or writing blog posts.
Stepping outside of the comfort of home, there are many ways to get involved in volunteering outside. The long-running, well known UK charity the National Trust relies on volunteers across the country to help look after coastlines, forests, beaches, islands, historic houses, gardens and art collections. Surrounding Swansea, National Trust protected areas include parts of the gorgeous Gower coastline. The National Trust say that “coast and countryside volunteering enables you to get outdoors and play a vital role in managing these environments for everyone to enjoy.” Volunteering at regular or one-off events is another way to give your time. Events can include charity events, or bigger events, such as the Pride in London festival, which takes place annually (this year it’s from 9th June to 7th July 2018). They recruit volunteers to take on a wide range of roles either for the Pride in London festival, or volunteers who give their time all year round.
Here at Swansea University, there are plenty of ways to get involved through volunteering. The University’s volunteering service – Discovery – provides students in Swansea with opportunities to get involved with lots of different and interesting voluntary positions and helping people within the wider Swansea community. Through Swansea University Students’ Union, becoming a Part Time Officer is a voluntary position and is a way to help with the running of the Union. And, of course, you could give your time to one of the three Swansea Student Media channels – Waterfront, Xtreme or SUTV (or all three at once)!
It is important to remember that volunteering, while it does involve giving up your free time to help others, it is certainly not a one-way street. There are so many benefits that stem from volunteering. Socially, volunteering is advantageous because it enables you to meet a diverse range of new people and even make friends. Volunteering is also a fantastic way to boost self-esteem and to gain increased self-confidence. Furthermore, through volunteering, you are better placed when it comes to applying for jobs. Having a voluntary position on your CV demonstrates that you can maintain a position of responsibility alongside your University studies and that you have developed skills and gained work experience. Similarly, through volunteering, you can use existing skills that you enjoy, and you can also develop new skills and passions through trying something completely new. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, volunteering is fun.
“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.”