Smorgasbord Something to think about – Volunteer Work – Getting the most out of life – Sally Cronin

Once we have completed this house and sold to move to what we are planning is our forever house (famous last words). I intend to get back to volunteer work. I am not sure in what capacity as yet but there are usually lots of local opportunities to explore.

Volunteer Work – Getting the most out of life – Sally Cronin

In most of our countries there are millions of family members caring for elderly parents or other family. They are unsung heroes and rarely get recompensed for the huge burden they carry and the time and money they save the state. It is something that we do for those we love and whilst voluntary is not the subject of today’s post.

It is difficult sometimes to imagine that we can find a few hours in our busy modern lives on and offline, to go out and work at a job, especially unpaid. But there are many physical, mental and emotional benefits from getting out and engaging with others in a different environment. It makes us fitter, more optimistic, gives us a sense of worth and helps others too.

There are over three quarters of a million volunteers in the UK who work unpaid for a number of enterprises including the largest, the Charity sector. There are also thousands here in Ireland you contribute their time on a regular basis. This does not include those who might give up a few hours or even days each week to help out neighbours, friends and family.

This might range from mums helping out at schools, teenagers working after school and weekends for charity shops, grandparents taking on the role of childcare, retired men and women continuing to use their work skills in mentoring roles, or even walking dogs for an animal sanctuary.

I have some links at the bottom of the post that will give you an idea of the enormous scope of the voluntary sector and its importance for non-profit organisations, and definitely for the volunteers themselves. They have all the information you need to get started and other links to check out.

Volunteering by its very nature means that payment does not come into the equation, but expenses may be met for travel or clothing. That has a huge impact on the bottom line of any organisation and can insure that more of the donated cash is available to help those supported by the charity. Many would not be able to function without a voluntary workforce and that is another reason to pay tribute to all those who give up their time to help.

It is not only non-profit organisations that can benefit from the expertise of the retired work force. Start-up businesses who have a tight budget can gain much by asking for guidance from those who have worked in their particular sector at all levels. It is sometimes more important to find someone who understands the front line service issues, as it is a senior executive to act in an advisory role.

The elderly sometimes need a helping hand, a friend to listen, someone who drops by each week, will take them to doctor visits or to church. Sharing a meal with someone elderly is an amazing thing to do as we all know what eating alone can be like. For the very young there are reading groups or perhaps a need for a surrogate grandparent.

With training you could also be the voice on the telephone, that a person at the end of their tether reaches out to, preventing an unnecessary tragedy.

For those who live alone, giving a few hours a week to their church, local school, charity or social club will also provide an opportunity to build new friendships and interests. Certainly it has been found that from a physical and mental perspective, volunteering can help prevent a number of age related diseases.

Both the links that I have given you have a huge amount of information, so if you have experience in any field that might be useful, including being a mum or dad, and are currently either unemployed or retired with time on your hands then you might consider it.

Over the last 40 years working in industry as well as a freelancer I have considered the volunteers as an essential part of my working team and I have also acted in the role of unpaid consultant. Here are just a few things to consider.

If you have been out of work for some time, perhaps because of family commitments or ill health, and are thinking of getting back into work, you might consider volunteering for a time, finances permitting. Not only will you learn new skills but also regain your confidence about entering today’s more modern workplace. For example, there are always jobs to be found in the retail sector and by working in a busy charity shop, handling cash, dealing with merchandise and customers you will find it is a great entry position to a full time job. You will certainly be able to offer a reference when applying for other positions.

Recently in the UK there has been a push by the NHS for more volunteers that carry out a number of roles within the emergency room and on the wards. Making sure an elderly patient is not afraid and alone, taking notes and transporting patients and equipment between department or helping at meal times. That makes a huge difference and frees up medical staff to do their jobs.

If you love animals, becoming a dog walker would give you a schedule, exercise and a non-judgemental co-worker! Even carrying out some of the less fragrant jobs in an animal shelter that makes the environment of abandoned pets a happier place, has its merits.

For the younger generation a chance to improve future employment prospects.

There may be opportunities within a voluntary position to learn more advanced computer skills which will not only affect your employability, but also be very useful in your personal life.

When I have been interviewing for positions at all levels within an organisation, I have usually found that those who detail out their voluntary work on their resumes are candidates who will find themselves on the short list.

Yes qualifications and experience are important but so are a work ethic and a commitment to helping others. This is particularly important for young men and women starting out in employment. The same applies to those who worked after school and during their holidays to earn money. They took useful skills with them when finishing their education, most importantly in how to build effective relationships with co-workers and customers.

Those of us who are considered to be passed our sell by date.

If you have knowledge then don’t hang onto it – it took you years to develop this and your skills and by sharing both with those who are less experienced, you will be responsible for driving the next generation of successful businesses.

If you retire at 65 and live to 95 that is 30 years. Great if you want to travel, write, spend time with grandchildren and other family, but if you ever get to the point when you find you have a few more hours on your hands than expected, you are never too old to lend a hand to a good cause and benefit others.

You might even start by blogging and sharing your years of experience in that way. And if you are an experienced author and blogger, then helping those new to both can a rewarding project.

Here is a website for the UK and I am sure that in all of your countries there will be an equivalent:

I couldn’t manage my schedule without my own team of volunteers..

Thanks for dropping in today and as always look forward to your feedback.. Sally.

41 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Something to think about – Volunteer Work – Getting the most out of life – Sally Cronin

  1. A wonderful post, Sally. I used to recommend volunteering to some of my counseling clients (in my previous career) as a cure for loneliness and way to build community, self-worth, and confidence. I’ve always felt that I’ve gained more than I’ve given when volunteering. Past “our sell by date” Ha ha. I can’t wait to be an elderly volunteer. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    In 2006 I left a factory job which was going nowhere.
    I soon began to volunteer, one thing led to another and years later became the volunteer coordinator for that organization.
    When I began volunteering for them I had no office skills, but could talk on the phone and be a voice on the other end.
    Sally’s post is one which hits very close to home to me.
    Now, I’ve got a promotional business and yet again I find myself volunteering to help others quite a bit.
    I leave you now to read Sally’s post and hope you’ll take it to heart.
    After all, it’s volunteers who make the world continue to go round.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Retirement has offered me the luxury of volunteering, Sally. I understand it’s not for everyone, but it makes me feel good about myself when I’m helping others. First, I volunteer at my old elementary school when they have a project they need help with (I told them not to call me to substitute). Next, I am on our local children’s author festival committee. Our group flies in twenty-five authors from around the country and puts them up in a nice hotel for four days. The authors go out into local schools and share their writing process with the kids. It’s great! Finally, I read the newspaper once a week for The Society for the Blind. We used to do this on live radio, but now I read the articles over my cellphone and send in the voice memos. The memos can then be accessed (afraid I don’t know the technical aspect of how this works) by those who are blind or have limited vision. Maybe down the road, I’ll blog about this.

    Liked by 2 people

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  5. We have an 88 year old volunteer in our department at work. He holds the patients’ hands when they have injections and the patients love him and some specifically ask for him when they return for their second injection. He also gathers up all the dirty laundry and hauls sacks of it down to be collected. He says the work keeps him going. Somebody nominated him for an award and he met the Queen recently.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad I dropped in on your blog today Sally. As my unpaid carer days are unfortunately over, Mom and Dad’s GP did say to me to put my recent OU Degree (BSc (Hons) Health and Social Care) to use with the practical experience I have gained as a carer for my parents. Your blog has inspired me to investigate volunteering with the NHS. I have a lot of experience of the A & E department, and various other hospital departments and it would be so lovely to be with someone who had no-one to stand with them. September is almost upon us, Autumn and Winter draw near. New year, new start and all that. Thank you so much Sally for the various links. Dawn xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Here in Spain we don’t have the same extensive Social Services as many people from UK are used to so there are lots of organisations like the Cancer Group and the nursing groups etc. I’m part of HELP and liaise the hospital visiting team and we go in twice a week to check on English speaking patients in the local hospital and give them a little company, advice and contact people for them. When the support structures are not there, then people do make a plan 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Like many people when I retired I decided I wanted to do some volunteering. I specifically wanted something involving literacy OR a role where I could help a charitable group with strategy – it was such a frustrating experience. Very few of the organisations I contacted ever got back to me. I still kept trying and ended up with an environmental group as a trustee.


    • That is interesting and mirrors other comments from friends over the years. Literacy is such a problem area with 16 year olds leaving school with barely functional skills, and hundreds of thousands of adults struggling to manage in this online world as well as on a daily basis. I hope that you do find a role that involves you in some way. I did start up business mentoring for some time which was rewarding but now back in Ireland I decided that I would apply my experience to promoting authors with free book marketing. I hope that it makes a difference and it is rewarding to see authors moving on to other books and rave reviews. thanks for commenting. Sally


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