So you must be looking at this page because you are a person living in your community and you would like to get involved in caring for and protecting your local heritage in some way… but we are guessing you don't know where to start?
Firstly, you need to ask yourself a question – why do you want to get involved? Do you want to give something back? Do you want to meet new friends or maybe you are thinking about getting involved to learn new skills for your CV. Each reason is different but if you are unsure about why you want to get involved you may end up with an experience that doesn’t necessarily suit what you want.
Maybe you want to improve your area and help to foster a greater sense of neighbourhood. There are a number of ways that you can get more involved in your local community, whether you're interested in organising a street party, becoming a councillor or joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
Lots of people engaged in voluntary activity may not necessarily think of themselves as volunteers. They may see themselves as “just helping out” or “lending a hand”. The list of things that volunteers do is almost endless.
How to find volunteering opportunities
First of all, decide how much time you have to give and in what area you would like to volunteer your skill. Some charities are flexible about when you work for them, while others will want you to commit to a regular day.
The next step is to find an organisation and volunteering opportunity that suits you. How to do this?
You can search for thousands of opportunities using the various volunteer website. Just select the type of volunteering opportunity you are interested in or look for a list of opportunities in your area. One of the most effective websites is http://www.do-it.org.uk/ . If you want to volunteer for a local resident association, building preservation trust or civic society, you may want to contact the national organisation who represents these to get details.
Before you start
Once you have found a community groups to get involved with it is useful to go and meet them for an informal chat and find out more about what you would like to do. This is a chance for you to ask questions about the volunteer opportunity, see the place you would be working and meet some of the people you might be working with.
Some of the points you might want to ask about are:
- what the position involves
- what training is offered to help you do the job
- if there are any qualifications you can gain while volunteering
- whether you will have a supervisor or mentor you can talk if you have questions or concerns
Volunteering helps you make new friends, increases your confidence and lets you play a part in your community. It can also give you a better chance of getting paid work, improving your career prospects or getting a place at university by helping you to:
- learn new skills
- practise the skills you have
- build your confidence
- meet people who can help you find paid work
- put your volunteering experience on your CV
- show employers you can keep regular hours and handle commitment
- have things to talk about in a job interview, and
- get references
Other benefits of volunteering include:
- having fun doing something you've never tried before
- a sense of satisfaction and achievement
- the opportunity to make new friends and contacts with diverse backgrounds and experiences
What can you do?
- You can do anything that you want, as small to as large as you want.
- You can join a mailing list and simply respond to petitions through to fundraising to save a local important building.
Always remember, volunteering and getting involved should be about fun…. Follow your passion and do what you want to do… but do it with a smile on your face