I’m not just a volunteer

“I’m just a volunteer” is a common phrase heard thousands of times over, but there is no just about it. Let’s get ourselves familiar with the facts like how volunteering services deeply impact the overall development of communities.Over 20 million people across England volunteer every year, contributing over 100 million hours every week. The estimated economic value is around £40 billion; yes you heard right £40 billion pounds!

The Term Volunteering:

The term volunteering basically implies the act of working on behalf of others for some specific cause, without monetary gain. With many mainstream services being cut and funding streams diminishing, it appears to be the commitment and dedication of an army of volunteers who are meeting the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Without volunteering many essential services wouldn’t exist. To begin with let’s look at the term volunteering and its influence in the voluntary and community sector. Firstly we need to understand what it actually it refers to?

Why do people volunteer?

We asked a number of people this question and received a number of different answers;

  • to gain new skills which they couldn’t develop through paid employment,
  • to build confidence, to develop new skills,
  • to build my CV, to help the environment,
  • to give something back,
  • to feel valued and part of a team,
  • to help those less fortunate,
  • to meet new people, the list goes on.

Volunteering is something very personal and people get involved for different reasons, but, without this tribe of dedicated volunteers giving millions of hours every week our society would be a very different place to live.

Trustees and Management Committee Members

In addition to the volunteering opportunities which are quite visible there is an army of trustees and management committee members who work tirelessly to do the nitty gritty work behind the scenes. Each charity or community group will have a committee of sorts, these are responsible for the governance of the organisation, meeting on a regular basis to ensure that they comply with current legislation, including the Charity Commission, finance, policies and procedures and much more. Often working away without any thanks or recognition. Without these people the volunteering positions we hear of just wouldn’t exist.

There are thousands of opportunities out there for people to get involved with and make a real difference. Do-it.org is a great place to start looking for potential opportunities, with Volunteer Centre’s across the country ready to assist you to find your perfect placement. vInspired is another organisation which helps young people aged 14 – 25 find suitable volunteering opportunities, young people can gain recognition and awards for their contribution which looks great when making applications for employment.

Large or small community and voluntary organisations need volunteers in order to provide services. Local groups such as Scouts, Luncheon Clubs, Residents Associations, Support groups all would not be possible without dedicated volunteers. National charities such as NSPCC, MacMillan, Mind, Samaritans, Oxfam, Barnardo’s would not have reached their stature without volunteers. So next time you hear someone say “I’m just a volunteer” smile and say thank you for volunteering, you don’t know the difference you truly make.

View Claire Arthur's profile on LinkedIn