Volunteering is the commitment of time and energy, for the benefit of society and the community, the environment, or individuals outside one's immediate family. It is undertaken freely and without concern for financial gain.
Volunteering can give you the opportunity to try something new, gain experience, develop skills, improve your career prospects, build confidence and meet new people.
Through volunteering you can:
- Take on a challenge - Getting involved in something new can be a real challenge. Volunteering can help you achieve personal goals, develop new skills and practice your talents. Sometimes a volunteer experience can lead you to something you never even thought about or help you to discover a hobby or interest you were unaware of.
- Be part of your community – volunteering can help build stronger communities, get involved in your community and feel part of something outside your family or circle of friends.
- Meet new people - Getting involved as a volunteer will allow you to meet lots of different kinds of people and make new friends.
- Sense of Wellbeing – Research demonstrates that volunteering can lead to better health*.
- Personal Development - If you are thinking about career development, about getting a job or returning to work, the experience you gain as a volunteer can be useful.
- Have fun - Volunteering is an excellent leisure activity. Most volunteers get great enjoyment from what they do - that's why they keep on doing it. Finding new interests and hobbies can be fun, relaxing and energising.
- Volunteering is a two way process - As a volunteer you will have your own motivations and reasons for getting involved. A good volunteer involving organisation will ask you about your motivations and try to meet your needs as well as their own.
* Health Benefits of Volunteering; A review of recent research, Washington DC 2007.
Things to think about before you volunteer
Before you begin volunteering there are a number of things you should think about to help you find a volunteering role that is right for you.
- Why are you doing it? If you are clear about why you want to volunteer then you are more likely to know what you want to do. All volunteers are motivated to some extent by the notion of wanting to do something positive for their community but often there is more to it than that. If you are doing work that interests you, you are more likely to give more to your volunteering role and to get more out of it.
- What do you want to do? Think about the type of activity that interests you or something that you would enjoy doing.
- How much time can you give? Can you make a regular commitment or do you want to get involved for a shorter period of time? Time commitments can vary from a one off event or specific project, to several hours each week or month, to a full time commitment. Be realistic about how much time you can spare and over what period of time. Do not over commit yourself.
- What skills do you have to offer? You may have certain skills or talents that you would like to put to use in the course of your volunteering, for example, financial skills, musical ability or IT skills or perhaps you are a good listener or enjoy caring for people. You should think about these skills when considering what role you would like to do. There are many voluntary positions, which require no special skills or talents and many more where training is provided.
Find a volunteer opportunity
- Search for a volunteer opportunity using the search facility at the top of this page. If you are interested in a particular organisation you can use the advanced search to show you all voluntary opportunities available in that organisation.
- Register your details against an opportunity.
- Receive an email confirming your registration and details on how to activate your account.
- Your details will be emailed to the organisation and they will contact you directly.