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Voluntary work

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Why volunteer?

There are all sorts of factors that motivate people to get involved as a volunteer.

For many there is a genuine concern for the well-being of others and a belief that to get the most out of life, you need to contribute fully to society. However, there are other less obvious reasons why you might choose to volunteer and it is understandable to think about what you personally might get from this experience. Some of the benefits of volunteering include

  • a chance to develop existing skills or to gain new ones
  • the experience of working in a different environment
  • the opportunity to learn more about yourself and your capabilities, and gain more self-confidence
  • the potential for relevant vocational training which could lead to a recognised qualification
  • the chance to develop your networking skills by making new friends and developing contacts
  • an insight into the work of a particular sector
  • the intrinsic satisfaction of contributing to something you feel is worthwhile and which will be valued
  • additional material for your CV and future job applications.

According to the Institute for Volunteering Research, most OU students who volunteer gain a sense of satisfaction from their involvement, a broader experience of life, and an opportunity to meet new people and make friends.

The national charity Timebank says that many volunteers find the experience challenging, and that in itself helps them to acquire the skills to face other difficulties in their lives.

What OU students say

An inside view

I volunteered two days a week for the charity Action for Sustainable Living. This gave me an inside knowledge of the charity and I built a strong relationship with staff members. When paid roles were made available, I had a clear advantage over other applicants.

A boost for the CV

I’m a treasurer of a youth football team, which I find very rewarding as well as tiring and time consuming. Trying to fit in my job, my OU course and this voluntary work is really stretching me! I would recommend anyone looking for work experience to try volunteering as a means of adding depth to your CV.

A gateway to new roles

Although I am now paid, I started my career as a volunteer advocate whilst working as computer programmer. This facilitated a change into the world of social care and gave me the disability awareness I needed to change roles.

I think that a lot of people start volunteering as a way of coping with a big – sometimes very unwelcome – change in their lives. Obviously, volunteers greatly help those they work for, but it quickly became apparent to me that I was getting a great deal more benefit from volunteering than I had ever expected. During the hard times especially, it was a real life-saver to have something else to think about and also the support of those around me.

OU student

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