Volunteering! A Way of Voting Every Day!
I was invited to write a blog for Volunteer Blog Action Day, where on 1st June 2012 people from all walks of life blogged about their experiences of volunteering. This post is an edited form of the original post that I wrote as part of Blog Action Day. This post is more personal than the ones I usually write for my website, but I wanted to share my own experiences.
I have been involved in formal volunteering for around 20 years, and before this volunteered when I didn’t really know that’s what I was doing – at school I helped out at the school disco where I helped out by selling sweets.
I became involved in volunteering when my children were little, and my main focus was looking after them. I was a teenage parent and I wasn’t comfortable with some of the labels given to people like me. I started a course at college in order to attempt to improve the prospects of not only me, but my children too. It was here that I was asked to become involved in a small committee for a charity called the Pre-School Learning Alliance. I lacked confidence at the time, but it helped me feel like I was making a difference even in a very small way. I attended the committee meetings once a month, took minutes and became involved in fundraising, asking local companies to give prizes for our raffles.
Several years later I was studying an access to higher education course and still volunteering for PLA. I saw an advert in the paper asking for volunteers to support young mothers and mothers to be for a new project called M2M Befriending Scheme. I went on the training and started voluntary work with young parents, who faced many of the barriers I had encountered myself. This was the first time that I felt like I fitted in, that my contribution was valued and that I could make a difference. I met other people who had been through similar experiences to me, and rekindled some old friendships – My friend Becky who I knew from school also volunteered and had a daughter a few months younger than my son. It was through M2M Befriending Scheme that I learned about Millennium Volunteers, an award scheme designed to recognise young volunteers aged 16-25 by giving a certificate for 100 and then 200 hours of voluntary activity. I achieved both of these quite quickly with both voluntary activities and was featured in the local newspaper, promoting the services and VODA.
My volunteering role later helped me to find work at VODA, who were looking for someone for just one day a week to support the work of Millennium Volunteers. This role lead me into my current career, working on projects that support people who struggle to get onto the career ladder, change roles or just want a little bit of help to cut through their thoughts and identify what is next in their lives.
Roll on a few years and volunteering with Whitley Bay Big Local (an initiative to improve Whitley Bay) helped me to launch my own company to help people reach their potential.
Volunteering has helped me secure paid work on at least three occasions and indirectly helped me secure every other role I have ever had. Without the experiences of being a volunteer I would be in a very different place than I am now. I would have found it more difficult to find employment. My social life would not be as rich. And the most important thing that volunteering did for me was that I found my soul mate – through volunteering I met my husband, Ian.
If you would like to explore how volunteering can help your career, get in touch with Kelly through our contact form