#IVolunteerBecause – Alex Swallow

Posted on: 29 February 2016

I can’t really remember a time I didn’t volunteer. Perhaps my earliest memory is running a jumble sale for the local youth organisation I was part of – and having an argument with a lady who wanted to buy a dog bowl for 2p instead of 5p!

Certainly secondary school played a big part in my love of volunteering. While not Catholic myself, I attended a Catholic school and Lent was always an important occasion with a lot of fundraising. I remember running a stall for charity: ‘Swallow’s Stationery Stall’.

I was the Schools’ Mayor of my local town, even getting to sit in the real Mayor’s chair and have a chain of office. These activities continued at university. I was involved with RAG and the students’ union and was particularly involved in protesting against rising tuition fees: I considered it my duty because I felt so lucky to be at university.

When at University I volunteered abroad for the first time – teaching in Romania and then helping to run the programme the following year. Later I went to live in Japan for two years and got involved in some volunteering there too.

I moved to London in my mid-20s and wanted to find something that rooted me in my local community. I got involved in a charity in Camden that supports people with learning disabilities and their families. This led to me becoming a Trustee and then setting up the small national organisation, Young Charity Trustees (YCT) which seeks to encourage board diversity. It is still going strong nearly 5 years later. YCT means that I spend quite a lot of my own volunteering time encouraging others to be volunteers! I am proud to support Student Volunteering Week– it’s a really important campaign.

My big plea to students would be to continue volunteering after they graduate. While many do, others focus solely on their careers for a few years. While I understand why, maintaining your volunteering helps you continue to have a broad view of the world and good volunteers are desperately needed.

If you are a volunteer please give yourself a big virtual pat on the back this week. Your efforts make a huge difference and influence others to follow in your path. The subject of influence is actually something my new business is built around – see www.theinfluenceexpert.com.

Happy #SVW2016!

Alex Swallow

Alex Swallow is the Influence Expert at www.theinfluenceexpert.com. He is also the Founder of Young Charity Trustees and Social Good Six and was previously the Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition.

Tags: Social Action, Third Sector

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