Build your confidence, skills and CV with volunteering that works for YOU
Having ‘volunteering’ on your CV shows you are motivated, experienced and able to work with anyone. It can really help you stand out from the crowd when you start applying for your first proper job. Oh, and as well as giving you extra confidence and new skills, it also means helping others.
HOT TIP: You can volunteer from the age of 14+ in the UK, so long as it’s for a non-profit organisation and they have an insurance policy to cover you. Volunteers usually start at 16+.
1. The Creative
Lights! Music! (Volunteer) action! If you’re a creative type who loves art and culture, there are all kinds of ways to give back to the community (and make your CV a Van Gogh-worthy masterpiece).
You can volunteer backstage at theatres, or crew on music festivals. You can give your time to museums and galleries, helping to keep them a resource that anyone can enjoy. You can share your skills at art workshops to provide social support and therapy for all kinds of people. From the homeless and old to those with learning disabilities, everyone needs (and deserves) access to the benefits that creativity can bring.
2. The Adventurer
Do you long to travel and see the world, experiencing other cultures? That wanderlust can be combined with your desire to help others through travel volunteering. You can try it as part of your gap year, or during your summer holidays… programmes tend to be flexible and can last anything from one week to six months or more.
It’s usually not a cheap option – there’s often initial payment involved (for travel and expenses) so it’s something to save up for. Any free opportunities you find are more likely to involve set skills, like photography or teaching, but it’s worth scouting around.
HOT TIP: Dig deeper! Research your dream travel volunteer project to check it really is ethical, popular and genuinely useful to the community it’s intended to help. See what other ex-volunteers have said about it! And always place your health and safety first if you go abroad. You can be adventurous without taking unnecessary risks.
3. The Carer
Perhaps it’s children, the homeless, or old people you want to reach out to? Right here in the UK, so many people are facing terrible daily challenges. You can help, and the UK will be a better place if you do.
If you have a caring nature, there are many ways you can make a difference, even if what you have to offer is mainly your time and enthusiasm rather than specific skills. There’s bound to be a local volunteer group that needs extra helping hands in your area. From giving a few hours each week or month at hot soup kitchens for the homeless to becoming a Leukaemia CARE student ambassador, there’s a lot of variety in how you can help care for others.
4. The Leader
Do you think you’d make a great team activity leader? Are you driven, full of ideas, and willing to step up and take charge (in a good way that helps others, not the Darth Vader way…)? There are lots of ways to volunteer so you can show leadership qualities and experience on your CV. This could involve sports coaching, teaching, mentoring or perhaps becoming a youth club leader.
HOT TIP: Many volunteer organisations like YEUK give lots of responsibility to their Youth Ambassadors, so search online for ‘volunteer youth ambassador’ and you’ll find all kinds of opportunities!
5. The Sportster
How can you combine canoeing with caring? Or skiing with social justice? If you love physical activity, you can make a difference through fundraising, sports coaching, summer opportunities and becoming an active champion for a wide variety of organisations.
HOT TIP: Get involved in sports volunteering now and you could end up a sporting coach or sports team leader over time.
6. The Wallflower
Feel a bit shy in social situations? What you need is a change of scenery and a new challenge. Volunteering means you throw yourself into something completely new and different, to put a spring in your step and either boost or restore your confidence. You’ll feel great knowing you’ve helped others, and those smiles will make it all seem worth it. Plus you’ll get to meet new people in a safe environment and discover a whole bunch of skills you never knew you had.
7. The Animal Lover
People need help, and so do animals! There are all kinds of disadvantaged creatures out there who need humans to intervene, from the cute and fluffy to the creepy and decidedly crawly. Your focus could be on rehoming animals, prevention of animal cruelty or species protection. Your activities could include anything from dog walking and cat socialising to home visits, fund raising or staffing gift shops. Or perhaps swaddling baby bats and feeding them with tiny pipettes. Your desire to help animals could take you from UK animal rescue centres to rainforest jungles. It’s your call.