This week is ‘Volunteers’ week’, an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering and an opportunity to share why volunteering is so amazing. So, we thought this would be a good time to answer some common questions people have about volunteering:
Why do work when you’re not being paid for it?
This is a question that some people are afraid to ask when it comes to volunteering, and it’s an entirely valid one. Yes, when volunteering, there is no paycheck at the end of the month and if I’m being honest, in some instances it can cost you money. But, I want to invite you to think of the value of volunteering that isn’t monetary.
Sounds like a big waste of time, what’s in it for me?
So, we have addressed the fact that you aren’t being paid, and now we are met with another question. I answered the first one though so now it’s your turn!
I want you to try and think of an example of a volunteering experience where you literally don’t benefit from it personally at all in any way. Don’t worry, I’ve already written this blog so if we were having a real-life conversation I would say ‘I’ll wait’ and you would feel pressured to come up with an answer quickly, but now in this virtual space, you have all the time in the world to think of one.
Thought of any? (Hopefully you didn’t because that would be awkward) but if you did, let me explain why I think you’re wrong:
A common answer may be; going to help rebuild the houses of people impacted by natural disasters. While this is an extremely selfless act that should be celebrated and applauded, if you think hard enough, you can personally benefit in many ways:
I don’t know about you, but I have never built a house, so even though I am am not being paid, I would learn all the skills involved with building a house, and in my opinion, those skills in addition to the nice warm feeling of helping someone in need is far more valuable than money.
To the one person who is sitting reading this who’s currently thinking to themselves “I built my house entirely on my own with my own two with no support from anyone else so this doesn’t apply to me” (we all know there will be someone), firstly I want to applaud you, well done that’s incredible! But think about the smaller things you benefited from; you were able to talk to new people which would have improved your social skills in some way, you experienced a new place, ate at a new restaurant you’d never been to before or even were merely celebrated for the work you did. These are all (a few of the several) examples of things that never would have happened if you hadn’t volunteered.
That sounds great but I still don’t understand, why do people do it?
Volunteering is an opportunity for you to grow as a person, support others and quite honestly to discover the many things in life that are more valuable than money (again what follows in just a few of countless examples). The smile of an elderly person when you visit them just for the sake of it that fills your heart with joy, the stories you can tell future generations of the people you met and how they have impacted your lives as well as what you did for them and the skills you learned and connections you have made that regardless of if you stay in contact will last forever.
So here is a final question for you that I want you to think of as many answers as you can for:
Why is volunteering an amazing thing to do?
For the rest of this week, we will be sharing the stories of young people who volunteer and why they think it is amazing. But please however old you are, share your answers with us on Twitter or Instagram at @platfform4yp and we will share as many as we can!