…it gives me a chance to give back, develop my skills and get involved in some high profile, amazing work.
Taking those in turn, what do I actually mean? Well:
1. It’s a different way of supporting charities – volunteering is at the heart of charity and charity (and everything that word encompasses) is a big part of society in the UK. It’s a way of supporting charities that doesn’t have a financial cost to it – but in fact delivers services for charities and reducing costs for them whilst still being a rich, valuable experience for the volunteer. And, volunteering is for everyone, there is something everyone can do and a plethora of causes to choose from.
2. The UK charity sector is big business, employing thousands of paid staff, managing billions of pounds in donations and supplying millions of volunteering opportunities. I’m a trustee of Brook, the sexual health charity, and have been a charity trustee since I was 18. Trustees are the volunteers that run charities; we are accountable to the Charity Commission and we manage the Chief Executive. Young trustees are still far and few in between. I believe that talented people, irrespective of age, should be given the opportunity to lead charities; if you’re interested in that, then look here. It’s your opportunity to develop experience of the inner workings of a charity; to understand the difference between restricted and unrestricted funding, to understand governance and to navigate the charity through a difficult time for a sector influenced by so much of government policy. If you do that whilst at university, you’ll really set yourself apart.
3. Volunteering is not restricted to your local community. Indeed, there are plenty of national and international opportunities to get involved in – a fruitful way to spend your summer (and you can do all of this alongside paid work, too). I was at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November in my role as UK Young Ambassador to the Commonwealth. An amazing, high profile event with people from all over the Commonwealth watching.
If all this sounds a bit over the top, then take it back to the grassroots – look around your local area for things you can get involved in. Who knows, you very well may be one the trustees leading a local charity in the years to come.
Join Leon and share your social action experiences with us using #IVolunteerBecause on Facebook and Twitter. Let us know what you’re up to this week using #SVW2016, too! You can find activities taking place near you here and through your local Hub.