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Is there anything that would make volunteering easier for you?

(84 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 10-Apr-12 12:03:01


Our Campaign of the Week this week is for the rather splendid Do-It, a site which aims to help people in the UK find volunteering opportunities via a postcode search.

Obviously volunteering is something that can take a hit when households are already struggling to make ends meet, so we wanted to ask: what kinds of things (other than an overflowing bank account) would make it easier for you to volunteer? And - for those of you who have volunteered in the past - what did you gain from the experience, and would you recommend it to others?


innerstrength Mon 16-Apr-12 18:20:51

I have been a Samaritan for about 14 years.

It is without doubt, the most amazing and worthwhile thing I have ever done with my life, and the thing that I have learnt the most from. And I keep on learning from it.

What would make it easier would be more/cheaper babysitters/childcare, as I am a single parent of several kids, and struggle to fit my duties in at a time when I have someone to babysit.

ThisIsNotWhatIWasAfter Mon 16-Apr-12 18:09:21

Those of you looking for family volunteering have a look at your nearest city farm or similar. Ours runs a club for kids to help out with animal care. Kids love it and its a worthwhile way to spend family time and get fresh air and exercise.

ragged Fri 13-Apr-12 10:40:18

I had a look at the website, all the opportunities within 5 miles are customer facing, which I don't want to do (MN has completely undermined my confidence there!). Or involve hours that don't fit with school.

I'd be happy to do a quiet back office role.
Will keep checking; tbh, I'm thinking to directly approach one of the local charities & offer to do a back-office type role, but obviously on my terms.

Wigeon Thu 12-Apr-12 20:09:49


Wigeon Thu 12-Apr-12 20:09:33

*Tw1nkle" - try your local regional office of Business in the Community - I'm pretty sure they would be able to point you in the direction of someone who could broker a volunteer opportunity for your team. Or they may well be able to do this themselves.

CherylCoalbunker Thu 12-Apr-12 19:50:33

Thanks for your further suggestions re family volunteer holidays!

gramercy Thu 12-Apr-12 18:37:12

I've been volunteering for years (SAHM).

I think some organisations definitely need to be reminded that volunteers give their time for nothing. Therefore be nice to them! I hate being guilt-tripped or overburdened or hassled.

Also some organisations dump every crap job on the newbie - again, v bad and no wonder they have a big turnover of volunteers (PTAs particularly guilty of this!). Likewise sometimes you volunteer for something and suddenly find you are the Secretary, Social Secretary, Vice Chairman, Chairman... and immediately absolutely everything is your fault .

Other organisations are supremely sniffy about new people. Usually a certain number of people are required to be quorate/operational, but actually they don't really want you present as it's a nice little social club for the old guard.

Perhaps I've just encountered all the wrong 'uns!

CroissantNeuf Thu 12-Apr-12 18:13:50

I've been a volunteer for the last 2 years.

What makes this do-able for me is mainly the flexibility of the role. Although I commit to 2 sessions a week I can swap days at short notice and its not a major hassle if I can't make it . Its also possible for me to do as much as I like from home too (so the charity benefit if I can't be bothered to do housework as I use the extra voluntary work as a distraction! grin)

Also, most importantly is that I only volunteer term-time so don't have to worry about school holidays.

I've also been there for that long as my skills and experience have been recognised and used, I've received training in new areas and I've been given lots of opportunities to develop the service I work in so I've never got bored!

ProfYaffle Thu 12-Apr-12 16:41:39

I'm currently a volunteer at the CAB and absolutely loving it. As others have said the way CAB is set up means the offices are run very differently in different locations. Personally I feel very valued, the training is amazing and they're as flexible as they can be with me.

Childcare is my biggest issue but if my school would run an afterschool club that would solve things easily.

I've also volunteered on the school Governors (gave up), local Allotment Association (gave up) and a community project (am wavering) The biggest problem I've come across in these projects is a lack of true hierarchy/authority which means the ridiculous politicking that goes on about shed sizes and other such crap is both petty and vicious. It's quite breathtaking how awful people can be to each other when we're all just trying to do the right thing.

MooncupGoddess Thu 12-Apr-12 14:02:27

The minimum age for Crisis at Christmas is 16 (with a responsible adult) or 18 independently.

Re volunteering, more flexibility so that people with full-time jobs could volunteer would be great. So much of it is Mon-Fri 9-5 when it doesn't need to be.

Fraktal Thu 12-Apr-12 10:56:56

Also, I can't see it on there but maybe I'm blind, is there a way for organisations to search for volunteers using the same method that volunteers search for organisations?

I suspect many people would be happy to be contacted but not to trawl through, especially for one off events.

PineCones Thu 12-Apr-12 03:06:34

The flexibility to work over the weekend. Don't mind coming in but difficult to commit to a roster of days in advance (even weekends) as work can be very demanding.

joanofarchitrave Thu 12-Apr-12 00:33:00

Cheryl, consider WWOOF (google it)? BTCV holidays still exist but to me they look expensive now - I used to go away for a week for £30 and loved it, but the prices have risen an awful lot and I couldn't afford it now.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 11-Apr-12 22:29:35

Would Crisis at Christmas welcome all-age volunteers?

Does your church have a Foodbank? Families volunteer together at ours.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 11-Apr-12 22:28:11

The British Trust for Nature Conservation (or similar title) used to do volunteering holidays, laying hedges and so on. That might be worth googling.

CherylCoalbunker Wed 11-Apr-12 22:02:22

Thanks so much for the heads up about Brownies and the VInspired website - brilliant!

Another issue: dd has asked if we could go on a family volunteering holiday - home or abroad - anyone got any ideas please? Would be interested in Christian organisations, too.

ShowMethePony Wed 11-Apr-12 21:33:17

I agree about childcare or something that I could take my son with me. I've volunteered before and learnt a lot, really enjoyed myself, doing something worthwhile and meeting new people. I think it would be a good example for my son to see me volunteer and also good for us to get out and meet people as we are in a new area.

I have plenty of time now to do something while I'm a SAHM but we are skint as I am a SAHM so I can't afford childcare on top of travel.

Trickle Wed 11-Apr-12 20:55:38

I will keep an eye out for anything like that, it's a good idea thank you Katie

piprabbit Wed 11-Apr-12 20:53:12

1. Childcare - from two points of view. First, not only am I donating my time, but I am paying for childcare too. Secondly, that there is very little truly flexible childcare available (so my volunteering role needs to fit in to when I have childcare arranged - I can't arrange ad-hoc childcare which changes week by week).
2. One of my current volunteering roles took 6 months to apply/do forms/do more forms/get CRB check/do more forms. I was starting to lose interest and enthusiasm. It seems like a huge waste of resources, especially if I decided I didn't really enjoy the role after all and quit.

I have been volunteering in various roles since I was at school. I've met some great people, learnt new skills, enhanced my CV and had a chance to share my experience with other people. Plus it gets me out of the house and thinking about stuff that doesn't revolve around my (rather wonderful but all consuming) family.

KatieMiddleton Wed 11-Apr-12 19:23:48

Could you do face to face stuff from home? Mentoring other volunteers for example? I can't pretend to have the first clue but I do think if you're giving your time it should be enjoyable and you shouldn't have to settle because you happen to have a disability.

Trickle Wed 11-Apr-12 19:16:17

I guess I havn't given up on the idea of being abel to work with people face to face, I enjoy it, I think I'm good at it - and I spend too much time on my own as it is. Maybe one day I'll give up and seriously research a position from home

sairygamp Wed 11-Apr-12 19:08:27

The one offs for empoyee supported volunteers are really hard. It's 'Give and Gain' day in May where employers are encouraged to give their empoyees the day to do such projects but it's really hard to match them!

KatieMiddleton Wed 11-Apr-12 19:07:13

Trickle there are loads of opportunities that don't require you to be in an office but obviously they might not appeal (I know some of them are really not my thing!). For example, sending event and newsletter emails, providing phone support (can be done from home), writing grant applications, writing articles, design work, sourcing venues and suppliers and getting quotes, accounting, writing reviews, testing products and services, campaigning and lobbying. I'm sure there's more stuff but that's just off the top of my head.

Tw1nkle Wed 11-Apr-12 19:06:12


My employer gives every employee one day a year off - for voluteering.

We're trying to find something to do, as a team, but are finding it impossible to find a 'one-off' opportunity for a group.

We have found some, but they want 'payment'!!!

Very frustrating!

Trickle Wed 11-Apr-12 18:56:11

I tried to volunteer for the CAB and a local youth organisation, tbh the CAB was OK just too busy to help - the youth organisation may as well have told me 'cripples weren't welcome' at the first meeting for the attitude I encountered. I'm currently pregnant which means no one wants me anyway because I will disappear in September - even SureStart has been a bit iffy - maybe I can become a peer breastfeeding supporter in another year - if I establish breastfeeding and want to.

Basically I have a history of both community work and as a young people and families drama worker. I'd love to get back into the youth/community work, but there seem to be too many barriers.

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