This Volunteers' Week, Adviza's Head of Commercial Services, Alix Simpson, highlights the many benefits of volunteering and the vital contribution volunteers make to our projects.

It’s Volunteers' Week and, at a time when there is a greater focus than ever before on the importance of good mental health, now is the perfect moment to acknowledge that volunteering can be a win-win: a way to help others, change lives for the better and provide significant benefits to your own wellbeing, confidence and even career prospects. 

Adviza’s volunteers

It’s also a timely opportunity to recognise the work of volunteers who help Adviza to deliver our community projects. Both our Prince’s Trust programmes and the Berkshire Education Employer Partnership (BEEP) benefit hugely from the work of a cohort of volunteers whose skills, knowledge and experience from their own careers are a benefit to the young people these programmes support.

Our adult volunteers can mentor and support young people, help to grow their confidence and self-esteem, and draw attention to career pathways and training that might present entirely new and unimagined opportunities.

The contribution our volunteers make goes beyond highlighting career pathways and opportunities, however: the emotional and psychological impact of our programmes is invaluable. The young people who participate in our employability projects can build networks, develop new circles of like-minded friends, discover within themselves a new sense of ambition, broaden their horizons and raise their expectations.

All of this is facilitated, and some of it inspired directly, by volunteers; people who enhance our ability to reach young people and adults and bring a wealth of relevant experience and expertise to their role. We are grateful to all of them.

Why volunteer?

It’s a joy to see your experience being of benefit to others, which is why many of our volunteers return to participate in future programmes. We’ve seen people consider a change of career after volunteering, and we also know that many consider volunteering a pragmatic form of personal development that allows them to build their communication, team-working skills and experience. Indeed Adviza, like many organisations, offers training and induction programmes that help volunteers develop their own skills.

Volunteering between jobs

In addition to directly adding value to society, volunteering to help others is proven to have an energising psychological impact. In other words, it’s a win-win activity where everyone benefits. Many people in full-time work volunteer, but those who are able to do so during periods of redundancy report that it is an inspiring, confidence-building activity that adds value to a CV, sustains momentum and helps to prevent them from fixating on negatives at a time when they may have lost confidence.

Volunteering is also a big draw for employers, with 73% saying they would employ a candidate with volunteering experience over one without (Timebank).

Volunteering at a glance: the benefits

Employers see volunteering as a great way to improve team working skills, self-confidence and communication. Volunteer experience on your CV demonstrates commitment to a cause without expectation of payoff or personal benefit beyond the pleasure of helping others, but it can have a huge positive impact on your sense of value, energy and motivation.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of our fantastic Prince’s Trust Team volunteers that I think sums up the experience of volunteering very well:

Everything is good with the Prince’s Trust programme. I have contributed to the team’s growth and was able to see positive progress. I really enjoy understanding other people’s perspectives and helping them overcome challenges they face. It also helps to improve my social and language skills which is an invaluable return.

How to find out about volunteering opportunities

There are several organisations that can help you find a way to volunteer that suits you. They include:

  • Do-It: a database of UK volunteering opportunities. You can search more than a million volunteering opportunities by interest, activity or location and then apply online, with the option of volunteering from home
  • NCVO: find local volunteer centres
  • Volunteering Matters: find opportunities in your area
  • Reach Volunteering: opportunities for people with three or more years’ professional experience

Volunteer for Adviza