Just giving - volunteering opportunities

(Posted on 13/02/18)

Just giving - volunteering opportunities

With Student Volunteering Week 2018 taking place from 19–25 February, it’s time to reflect on what it actually means to help others. Student Volunteering Week aims to celebrate the impact made by student volunteers and encourage them to engage in civic life. Student Hubs and the National Union of Students (NUS) both support the Student Volunteering Network (SVN) to deliver the countrywide campaign, which is now in its seventeenth year. 

In the world today, with everyone busy with their own day-to-day lives, it’s easy to forget about people who would benefit from a helping hand. We seem to have become very inward-looking in many aspects of society, from self-regarding ‘selfies’, to an obsession with communication without physical contact. With more and more ways to communicate, some quarters of our society have never felt more lonely, marginalised or helpless.  

Giving to charity, or to someone who is homeless on the street, is helping at its most direct and impactful. Homelessness and a lack of adequate resources are very real problems in the country today and one that social care and local councils are not able to address convincingly. It’s not just about money however and resources are much more far-reaching than simply hard cash. 

Charity walks, sponsored challenges and fundraising events all help to raise awareness of issues, but it’s the difference to everyday lives that matter most. Many organisations rely extensively on volunteers, even just to function, and with people having to work longer hours, in more jobs, with less free time, considerations such as unpaid volunteering are sometimes the first casualties. 

Volunteering and helping out can make a huge difference to peoples’ lives, and it’s not just the things you might think. A place to socialise or extra emotional provision in times of need are two of the principal areas of support. Those in need can be of all ages and backgrounds, but one of the most vulnerable groups is the elderly. Our ageing population, living longer and needing more care, is creating an entire industry around the ‘caring issue’ and the need for accommodation and staff to carry this out. It’s simple things too, like leavening loneliness with company. It’s sometimes nothing more than a conversation that people need to brighten up their day, a bit of chat or someone to interact with, whether it’s a card game or a singsong. 

Volunteering can be deeply rewarding for both volunteer and recipient. It needn’t take up all your free time, but think about how you can make a difference and see if there are ways that you can help out in your local area.