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To ask about your experience volunteering?

(42 Posts)
climbingcorfecastle Mon 29-Jun-20 14:26:33

I am a long term carer and therefore am not able to work, so I try to volunteer as much as possible to give back etc etc. Over the years I've volunteered in various places, some very local and others large national organizations. One of the long time orgs is a children's charity and I feel very valued there; even throughout lockdown they email and check in with the volunteers fortnightly, thanking us and just generally keeping us posted. The other is a women centred organization, I started about a year ago and it is everything that I don't like. I find them to be very disorganized, have turned up many times at my allocated day/time to be told that i'm not wanted that day, but never a phone call to say so. I should just leave but it was actually really hard to get into, I had to undergo several interviews and then several months training and inductions and they always make a point of hammering home how many potential volunteers are on the waiting list.

Something on another thread made me realize that not all places are the same or hold the same weight/value for volunteers. Please share what your experience has been and if it has been helpful to you for employment.

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climbingcorfecastle Mon 29-Jun-20 14:27:58

Sorry I thought I disabled the voting!

OP’s posts: |
VeggieSausageRoll Mon 29-Jun-20 14:32:32

Wherever I've volunteered I've always felt valued. I did a stint at an animal rescue centre, the Cinnamon Trust and a mental health charity, all of which could not function without volunteers. These volunteering positions have also gone on to employment opportunities as well.

DeepfriedPizza Mon 29-Jun-20 14:32:38

I volunteered in a charity shop one day a week. I was treated terribly, talked to like shit by the manager and customers. I was the only volunteer that had actually volunteered and the others were mandated by the job centre. The other staff didn't want to do anything and behaved like children.
I went through an ectopic pregnancy and had to take time off for hospital appointments and the manager treated me as if I was taking the piss and making it up even though I had done my best to do other days etc. I left pretty swiftly after that

AmyC40 Mon 29-Jun-20 14:50:37

I run a Volunteer Centre - so I match people looking to volunteer with local charities. The volunteers' experiences are all very different!

Some charities have a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator who can oversee the whole volunteer journey so the support and recognition volunteers get is amazing. For other charities looking after volunteers is an add on to their already very busy job so perhaps they aren't given the same recognition they should.

Also some charities may only have 1 or 2 staff but a huge volunteer base so again volunteers are not given the same value.

Likewise with any organisation if you have one or two stronger members of the team (whether volunteers or staff) this can really affect the dynamics.

In addition managing volunteers is very different from managing staff - you have to use different terminology (to avoid potentially creating an employment contract), have expectations rather than job requirements and adhere to strict policies about what you can and can't offer e.g. in regards to training as this could be seen as a job perk! So some organisations cope really well with this others not so!

DuringDinnerMints Mon 29-Jun-20 15:06:56

I've volunteered for a few different charities. The worst was when I was a home visitor for the blind. I had no phone calls to check I was ok in 6 years, neither did the service user. There were huge gaps in safeguarding, I raised it and nothing was ever done. I was offered no training, not even a thank you for 6 years of service.

My current role is much better. My boss thanks me for my efforts and makes me feel genuinely valued. Safeguarding rules are taken very seriously there and we're offered any relevant training we need.

CorianderLord Mon 29-Jun-20 16:02:23

I volunteered in a charity shop. They used to all leave and go drink coffee across the road while I worked. For four hours. It was a bit weird tbh

Valkadin Mon 29-Jun-20 16:40:50

Have volunteered a lot, all bar one were excellent. Working for DV charities, food projects and Help the Aged as it was then. One bad experience was as a volunteer cook in a kitchen on a food project, this man kept putting his arm round me. I asked him on three occasions to stop, in the end I complained about him. They spoke generally to the men about unwanted attention and didn’t tackle him directly. I never felt the same. I noticed that he targeted only women younger than him and my self and the other women he was touchy freely with were anxiety sufferers. He was a lower level predator basically. There was a lot of he doesn’t mean anything by it and it’s just how the older generation are. That was including the women.

Fallulah Mon 29-Jun-20 16:54:48

I’ve been a Girlguiding leader... essentially I love camping, cooking and setting fire to things so I’m in my element there but some units focus heavily on craft type activities so you have to make sure you’ve found the right fit. I definitely have - some of my closest friends are the other leaders. I go through phases of loving it and hating it though - the politics that comes with leadership roles outside your unit and, since I became a teacher, finding it very similar to school if you’re not careful.

I also walk dogs for the Cinnamon trust and I love that.

Fairyliz Mon 29-Jun-20 16:59:30

Volunteer at a charity shop. The Manager is paid but the rest of us are volunteers.
Manager is fabulous friendly, kind and good fun, always checking we are ok.
Other volunteers are a mixed bag, 80% lovely, 20% strange, but I can cope with that.
Generally nice people coming into the shop and there’s time for a bit of a chat.

sunshineandrainbowz Mon 29-Jun-20 17:29:02

I've volunteered at a couple of places and both experiences felt very meh.

One summer at an animal rescue, most of the time I showed up and they had so many volunteers they didn't need me so I did odd jobs and went home - not the most valuable experience.

Spent a year volunteering for a health charity for my university course and they gave me the jobs they didn't want to do - leaflet folding, inputting paper surveys onto the computer etc. I know it was work needed to be done but it wasn't very hands on.

2DayW0rk2m0rrw Mon 29-Jun-20 20:18:50

I've done lots of different types of volunteering over the years, in lots of different settings, short & long term

I have given my time, energy, enthusiasm

I've met some interesting people, learnt some new skills, including some famous people

Added info onto my CV

So a positive outcome for myself grin

Foxyloxy1plus1 Mon 29-Jun-20 20:40:38

I volunteered for various roles. Several of the organisations didn’t respond at all. As a former teacher, I volunteered to hear readers at the local primary school. I felt that I was an encumbrance most of the time. They usually forgot I was coming, so nothing was planned and no one offered a drink or an invitation to the staff room at break time. I was pretty much ignored.

I volunteered in a library and thought I’d get to know how the systems worked. I spent the whole time putting books on shelves and tidying shelves. Pretty boring really.

MaybeDoctor Mon 29-Jun-20 20:43:19

I did a trained voluntary role with new mothers and babies.

I loved it with a passion, but the requirements were very onerous. The training was a full accredited course, then on top of the volunteering itself you had to do supervision meetings (monthly), at least two CPD sessions each year (such as attending conferences) and safeguarding training. This was all fine if you lived in an area with lots of funded project work, but the provision to actually meet all these requirements (i.e. attend supervision sessions) was very patchy if you did not - despite it being a national organisation. In the end the barriers became too much and I had to give up.

MaybeDoctor Mon 29-Jun-20 20:52:42

My view is that volunteering schemes need to tread a very fine line between dogsbody work and asking the volunteer to do what really should be a skilled employed role.

A little voice in my head kept saying: 'If this was a men's health issue it wouldn't be unpaid women doing the work'. hmm

EineReiseDurchDieZeit Mon 29-Jun-20 20:54:16

I have had a mixed experience

My last voluntary gig was not great and I slowly faded it out. The deputy manager was an odd man and would openly discuss his love of extreme porn. hmm Manager and Deputy both seriously racist too.

Afterwards I discovered that the last act manager did before leaving was to remove a disabled volunteer out of a role they had held for nearly 20 years, and ban them. They were not neurotypical and were often a bit challenging, but this just seemed like a wilful act of parting malice to me.

Other places have been different, but I have definitely experienced "your hard work is so amazing, we need people like you one day we will offer you a paid role" more than once for the paid role never to materialise.

PinkiOcelot Mon 29-Jun-20 21:00:02

I volunteer for a bird rescue charity. I safe house (foster) birds until they’re adopted. Currently safe housing an African grey.

2DayW0rk2m0rrw Mon 29-Jun-20 21:01:17

I'm going to add some of the missing info;

First aider
Fire warden
Assisted people to enjoy some sports & a holiday
Gardening
Animals, cleaning, caring, feeding
Catering
Crafts
Befriend a elderly person
Attend various events for fund raising
Face painting at fetes
Puppet show
Call centre to receive donations during charity events
Promoting events

It's been a blast !

CherryPavlova Mon 29-Jun-20 21:08:55

Met my husband whilst volunteering. We worked with the charity for about ten years and made lifelong friendships with other volunteers. It gals very young leadership experience.
I spent a year post qualifying working in a camp during the Ethiopian Famine. Life changing experience and very valuable for my career.

Currently Secretary to a small local charity but it’s frustratingly old fashioned and patriarchal. It does some good but some of the trustees are quite narrow in their understanding of need.

Unescorted Mon 29-Jun-20 21:13:26

I oversee a rural foodbank stores, entirely run by volunteers - I started to help a friend who was overwhelmed and she has now had to reduce her hours. I don't see anyone at the moment because we deliver and there is no CPD or training -f anything my day job helps with improving / implementing processes. However my employer sees it as experience & it goes on my appraisal as "exceeding" my job description.

I get occasional emails, phone calls and notes to say thanks for keeping it sorted - it is stock rotation, shelf stacking and working out a cleaning and quarantine system. It is not rocket science - it gives me a space to be away from my wfh desk, when I was commuting it was a space to stay out of the rain while I waited for dh to pick me up. I love it and it currently keeps me sane.

climbingcorfecastle Mon 29-Jun-20 21:29:16

Thanks for all of the replies, it seems like it's a real mixed bag! It's interesting that in my not so enjoyable place there is a lot of talk of potential jobs for volunteers but I haven't heard of anything in my time there. Is this a ploy to keep the volunteers sweet? I'm reluctant to leave as I said because the process itself was really arduous. Just before lockdown it was left that they would phone us when everything had calmed down so it will be interesting to see if and when that happens.

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2DayW0rk2m0rrw Mon 29-Jun-20 21:53:43

When I volunteered with "animals" it was a complete contrast to my FT inside, sedentary job. I was not expecting to change my job.

I have found that volunteering broadens your horizons. I've met some people, that I may have not met during my normal day to day life.

Volunteering also gave me more confidence in some particular situations

I do believe that some employers encourage people to volunteer. Some company's provide a paid day for their employees

It's always been on my CV. It provides an extra talking point

Yes, it can lead to employment, but not in all cases.

thaegumathteth Mon 29-Jun-20 22:06:35

I've volunteered and if really does depend on the organisation and the individual people how valued you feel.

I've also been a volunteer manager in a children's charity. We really valued our volunteers - it would have literally been impossible to carry on without them. We genuinely cared about them too not just because of their usefulness iyswim? I left the organisation 13 years ago and still think of some of the volunteers even now.

I get extremely irritated by badly organised and ungrateful volunteer recruitment / management. It puts people off and everyone misses out as a result. It is one of my biggest pet peeves.

Professionally, yes it's helped me especially because I was working for a charity and looking for recruitment in the third sector but I think even in general it's a big positive and proactive thing.

thaegumathteth Mon 29-Jun-20 22:09:51

volunteering for a charity

AnneElliott Mon 29-Jun-20 22:16:30

I'm a volunteer for the Scouts. The appreciation from the kids and parents is lovely. The politics coming from the other adults in the movement not so much.

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