What is Volunteering?

Volunteering involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that is of benefit to others or the environment.

There are of volunteering opportunities available across Woking with lots of different charities including sports coaching, caring, administration, research, youth work, conservation … and more!

Some will require a regular commitment while others may be one-off opportunities.

If you can’t find the volunteering role you want, or if you need help setting up, accessing your account, or posting a volunteer role, please get in touch by emailing volunteer@woking.gov.uk or calling 01483 743851. We have a team on hand that can support you with all of your volunteer related questions.

For Corporate Volunteering please click here

Why Volunteer?

Below are some of the reasons people choose to volunteer.

For some it provides an opportunity to:

  • Give something back to an organisation that has impacted on a person’s life, either directly or indirectly
  • Make a difference to the lives of others
  • Help the environment
  • Help others less fortunate or without a voice
  • Feel valued and part of a team
  • Spend quality time away from work or a busy lifestyle
  • Gain confidence and self-esteem

For some, volunteering can be a route to employment, or a chance to try something new which may lead to a career change. From this perspective, volunteering can be a way of:

  • Gaining new skills, knowledge and experience
  • Developing existing skills and knowledge
  • Enhancing a CV
  • Improving one’s employment prospects
  • Gaining an accreditation
  • Using one’s professional skills and knowledge to benefit others (usually described as pro bono)

For others, volunteering appeals because of its social benefits. These include:

  • Meeting new people and making new friends
  • A chance to socialise
  • Getting to know the local community

What you need to know about Volunteering

Volunteering opportunities come in many shapes and sizes. Some volunteer a few hours regularly, others when called upon by an organisation. You could volunteer in your neighborhood, online or in other countries.

This guide will help you find out what is possible and how to begin volunteering.

Things you’ll need

  • A passion
  • Time, sometimes very little time

What type of cause or organisation?

A good way to start is to list the sort of cause or organisation you would like to help. For example, working with children, older people, homeless people, disabled people, and refugees. Perhaps you could help clean up the environment, or get involved in sports or arts and culture, or looking after animals.

List what skills you have to offer

Do you have IT skills, housekeeping, driving, teaching, creative, caring, fundraising, organising or perhaps you are good making friends. Probably the most important attributes are commitment, common sense and the ability to work in a team.

Work out how much time you can give

Be clear about how much time you want/are able to volunteer from the outset. Also be clear about other roles and responsibilities you have, so that from the outset expectations are set appropriately. Don’t forget to think about the travel time involved.

Find the organisation for you

Identify organisations which operate in your area or for the cause you’re interested in. Check out their websites and see what volunteer roles they are looking to fill. Big charities often have a way you can inquire and apply on line. Other organisations may like you to email or write to them.

Contact your local Volunteer Centre; (Volunteer Woking) they may have drop-in sessions or make appointments to talk over opportunities in the area.

Get references

Especially if you are thinking about a big commitment of time or energy, it is important to approach a volunteer role as carefully as a paid role from both parties’ point of view, so making contact or getting references from people who have or still volunteer for that organisation is always a good idea.

Do your research

Check out how well organised the organisation is in terms of running a volunteer programme, how well are the role and the time-commitment defined, who can you go to for support, who will you report to, are the health and safety policies and procedures in place, what expenses they meet, how are volunteers viewed in relation to paid staff, acknowledged, etc.

Watch for how they make contact with you and talk over the volunteering opportunities with you. Do you feel you are getting the chance to ask the questions you need and sort out the arrangements and procedures?

Larger organisations will have highly well-developed volunteering programmes; smaller organisations may tend to be more informal in their involvement of volunteers and have less resources for support of volunteer programmes.

Both can be rewarding and worthwhile but it is important to match your abilities and aspirations with the organisations; if these are mismatched, the volunteering role is unlikely to be a satisfactory experience for either party.

Trialing/shadowing periods

It can be beneficial to agree a short trial or shadowing period both to ensure a good match between the needs of both volunteer and the organisation but also to see how you enjoy working with the other people involved. Really enjoying both the work and the people you work with is of primary importance.

If things don’t work out, be prepared

Most people’s volunteering experiences are positive. If things do go wrong, it’s important to work out a course of action. Come and speak to us at Volunteer Woking.

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