What kind of volunteering do you do and would recommend?

(18 Posts)
missbopeep Thu 22-Aug-13 08:59:46

I'm thinking of giving a day or half a day a week ( most) to volunteer as I wind down into retirement, but am spoiled for choice.
I wondered if anyone had any strong feelings and advice?

Part of me wants to do something really 'useful' like Macmillan, Marie Curie or a local hospice. On the other hand I am looking (locally) at Cheshire Homes, Age Concern and various things. Then there are charities for young people, physically disabled , and a local night hostel- they need cooks, servers etc. I'm also torn between using my professional skills or doing something completely different.

I don't want anything that becomes too demanding or needs pre-training, and can't see myself as a Samaritan.

I'd also like to be flexible with commitment if possible where I can not go in if I can't for any reason ( maybe a tall order.)

Anyone any ideas or experiences to share?

Ragwort Thu 22-Aug-13 09:07:45

I think you are right to give it very careful consideration, I do a fair bit of volunteering and to be honest some of the 'positions' I do have now become really quite difficult, I don't enjoy them particularly but have got so far involved in them that to give up would cause a lot of difficulty & invonvenience grin.

Can you contact the various organisations and ask to do some sort of 'informal trial' - go and meet the people you would be working with and the other volunteers (very important grin) - ask what support is available for volunteers. If you are told there is some sort of 'support system' for volunteers ask them what happens if that system breaks down - ie: if it is just other volunteers it can be very likely that they may leave their 'support posts' leaving you totally isolated. Don't think this doesn't happen, it has happened to me on a number of occasions !!

I don't want to sound negative as most aspects of volunteering are really good and very rewarding, I do a variety of posts which use my previous experience and some which have been totally new to me - therefore giving me fresh challenges - to be honest these have been the more interesting; some of the other roles just feel like unpaid work.

Good luck whatever you do smile.

missbopeep Thu 22-Aug-13 10:03:24

Thanks smile
That's helpful.

Years ago I started volunteering and it turned into a paid job ( it was connected to my profession!). I welcomed that then, but am not so sure about that option ( if it ever came along) now.

I suppose my main questions are do I want something admin based in an office - phones, paperwork, writing- which I could do very easily ( am degree educated and lots of varied experience in several fields) or do I want something where I 'muck in' and do something very practical, like cooking with teens in the Cheshire Home etc.

Or do I just want the odd day of work where I help out at coffee mornings and events?

I'm also doing this to make new friends and meet people because when I retire completely there will be a gap......

all comments and ideas welcome!

Leeds2 Sun 25-Aug-13 15:36:34

I volunteer in the office of my local Home-Start, which I very much enjoy. It is mainly photocopying, filing, writing address labels etc but the office is very short staffed and what I do needs to be done, it's just the paid staff don't have time to do it!

I also volunteer as a librarian in the primary school my DD used to attend. A very different position, lots of contact with the children and I do feel that I make a difference.

Have also in the past volunteered in a charity shop.

For me, the thing which makes a difference as to whether or not I enjoy what I am doing is the people I have contact with whilst I am doing it! To work with nice people makes all the difference, imo. I think it is also worth bearing in mind that if you are a volunteer, you can leave if the job isn't what you thought it would be, and go and try something else.

yellowballoons Sun 25-Aug-13 15:55:11

Having seem a thread about charity, you may want to look up the "ethos" and salaries of the people at the top of the organisation first.
You could end up feeling not appreciated.

There ae often adverts in local newspapers, which might be a bit lower key, and which you may be able to pop in and out of?

NatashaBee Sun 25-Aug-13 16:02:09

Where I used to live there used to be volunteer 'speed dating' events where you could go along, meet with various charity reps and find out more about what type of volunteer opportunities they had. Is there anything like that near you?

LottienHuw Mon 26-Aug-13 20:04:50

I volunteer at a museum on the front desk welcoming visitors. This is not the position I volunteered for but I ended up doing it because no-one else would do it which seems to be a common occurence with volunteer roles smile . It is flexible, I can choose when I want to work but once my name is on the rota it is difficult to change it at a later date. I enjoy meeting the visitors, most of which are foreign tourists. Its a very pleasant place to work and very laid back.

I also volunteer with a very well known animal rescue charity. That is not flexible and I cannot choose my hours. They expect volunteers to treat the role like a paid position. If you miss too many days they ask you to leave, they have a waiting list for the positions and some school leavers jump at the chance to help when someone leaves. They tell me 1 month in advance what I am working, it frequently clashes with school award giving and the childrens hobbies. I have also had to pay for childcare to cover my voluntary role. This is one I have handed my notice in for but again I had to give a months notice.

I think from what you have said something like the role I have at the museum would possibly suit you or maybe making tea and chatting at a hospice may be what you are looking for. Perhaps your local hospital again making tea and befriending patients. Have you looked on the Do-It website and searched for available roles in your area? They send you an email with the details about the position you are interested in and you can either follow it up or just ignore it.

missbopeep Tue 27-Aug-13 14:13:04

Thanks for all the ideas.

Yes I've been on the Do-it website- it's my first port of call. There are a lot of charities near me- mainly Cheshire Homes, Macmillan, various admin jobs in offices etc.

I suppose my main reason for doing this is to meet new people so I don't want to be stuck in an office with just one other person ( however nice they are!) and not meeting people.

I looked into the local hospice opps and they seem to want to train everyone even if you just serve teas. I don't mind a bit of training but - and don't take this the wrong way- I've spent my working life training and being trained in my work, so it would be nice to avoid more of it if possible!

I'm a bit torn because although I want to be involved I want it on MY terms- the 2 previous volunteer roles I had became onerous as they were on a set day every week and when DH retires ( and I do too) I don't want that kind of commitment week in and week out.

I'll have another look. But if anyone has more comments do share.

dyslexicdespot Tue 27-Aug-13 14:24:52

I really enjoyed volunteering as a refugee mentor. I was paired with a woman and provided support to her and her family.

Mostly, I spent my time with her showing her how navigate life in the UK. How to use a library, read a bus map, take the tube and so on.

neolara Tue 27-Aug-13 14:28:52

I'm a governor at my kids primary school. When I started the commitment was minimal. I'm now Chair and it probably takes up a good 2 or 3 days a week. I've also been a volunteer for a mental health helpline, which was very interesting but fairly traumatic at times. And I ran a baby group for a bit - that was fun. I got to know lots and lots of people who I subsequently bump into all the time.

LottienHuw Sat 31-Aug-13 09:23:18

Have you got a Trussel Trust branch near you?

Its a food bank and I understand they are very flexible with their volunteers. My friend helps at our local branch, she goes in when she has time and gets to meet lots of people. She has no specific duties with them, some days she makes up food parcels and other days she collects food and also distributes food parcels to people. She had very litle training, just really 'this is how to do such and such and just ask if you have any questions'.

trice Sat 31-Aug-13 09:34:57

I volunteer with girl guiding, which I enjoy. I also volunteer at a centre for adults with additional needs. Once I realised that some of the men's special needs included grabbing at any passing female bum I learned to avoid them.

I like talking to lots of people. If you are more keen on administration then you should choose a more back office job. If you want something very flexible try walking dogs for a rescue kennel or befriending a lonely older person.

LouiseD29 Mon 02-Sep-13 12:59:01

Before I had my baby I volunteered as a driver for www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk, a national charity for socially isolated people aged 75+. One Sunday a month you collect a couple of the members for a tea party at another volunteer's house. It's a small time commitment, a lovely way to spend a few hours a month and is hugely appreciated by the older members, many of whom have virtually nothing else in their diaries.

bumperella Mon 11-Nov-13 00:11:08

I volunteer at a community garden which provides training for vulnerable adults. I absolutely love it, partly because of the challenge, partly because of the gardening, partly the stunning location, partly the cake, partly the people, partly because I learn something new every time I go....but mostly because of the fab positive atmosphere. I intended to go once a month, but go twice a week and both I and my 2 year old love it, even in the winter. I feel totally evangelical about voluntary work as a result. In the past I have worked in an Oxfam shop on sat mornings, a charity I felt very strongly about but otherwise I didn't enjoy it at all.

I am also on 2 committees. One of which is fab, interesting discussions as to the best things to do and the best way to do them , lots of disagreement but all amicable and sociable - if impassioned. The other is appalling, due to a bullying individual who stirs bother whenever he can, brings everyone down, and makes what should be a fun sociable community event into a grim moan-fest. Neither are world-changing community events, though the former Does Good and the latter puts on an annual community event (which has been going nearly 200 years, but otherwise has no real merit).

I would be inclined to ask to go on a taster session, attend any open meetings, observe a committee meeting, etc before deciding. You have lots of skills to offer. There are some fabulous opportunities for volunteers out there. But here are some crappy ones, too.

ThisIsMummyPig Mon 11-Nov-13 00:19:40

I am a guide leader. It is the best thing I have ever done. There are lots of different roles that might not spring to mind, for example district commissioners pull together the different units in an area, and help to run events, but don't have to be out at the same time every week.

There may also be campsites etc where you can help out on an occasional basis.

Most units would be glad of an extra pair of hands now and then, if you didn't want to commit to every week.

Depending on where in Cheshire you are, I may have some contacts if you fancy it.

I have also been involved in a couple of 'friends of groups' of local parks. They were both awful. Lots of complaining and no action.

Go and talk to your local library - they are likely to have lots of volunteering choices. Off the top of my head, our library has volunteers running book clubs, taking books to people who are housebound, computer buddies for computer newbies etc. etc.

I wouldn't recommend any volunteering that is connected with the NHS - I've been involved in a couple of roles and found the organisation very, very difficult to work with - which is a huge shame.

BackforGood Mon 11-Nov-13 00:25:02

In a way, the fact you don't want to be tied down to a time commitment is a bit contrary to the fact that part of the reason is that you want to commit to meeting new people.

The kinds of things where you can do a lot at times to suit you could be..... being treasurer for various organisations (often Scout and Guide Groups in poorer areas really struggle to get people to do jobs like this for example - but contact your local District or County Team to see where you can help most) ..... or our local hospice have people who go and tend the garden for them on a voluntary basis. Again, something it wouldn't matter if you didn't want to do - say Tuesday next week, but massively appreciated by the folk there.

But the things where you are going to be part of a wider team or meeting lots of people, are likely to be more fixed in terms of them hoping you will commit to a particular 'slot' in the week. The possibilities are endless then.

That said, of course, places that rely on Volunteers do understand that people go on holiday and have hospital appts and other things they neeed to attend, so it's probably best to do something you enjoy and worry about any 'time off' when you need it.

piratedinosaursgogogo Mon 11-Nov-13 00:30:07

I'm a Wish Granter for the Make A Wish Foundation and I absolutely love it. I'm English living in the US at the minute but I'm sure there are similar wish granting agencies in the UK. I can take on as many wishes as I'm able to (currently have 15 ongoing) and I interview the wish child and the family, usually at their home. This takes about 1/1 and a half hours. I then link the MAW office and the family while the wish is being granted and getting the family ready for the wish. It really is the best thing I've ever done.

Thinking about it, I'm sure Make A Wish are UK based too. You can also write up wish stories, help or speak at corporate events, lots of different opportunities.

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