Going into my local Oxfam bookshop, I had no idea of what I’d be doing each day or who I’d meet, and after months of limited social interaction due to Covid, I was apprehensive to say the least. I’ve since been at Oxfam on and off for six months, and it’s one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve ever been involved with, and there are many benefits to volunteering yourself!
It strengthens your CV
One of the most practical advantages of volunteering is that it rounds off your CV. If you need to freshen yours up with a more current role, or your previous experience has been limited to one field, then volunteering adds more variety and value to your CV. You also gain a useful reference.
Depending on where you volunteer, the tasks you’re assigned will be different, but useful for future employers to see. My position at Oxfam involves working on the till, sorting donations and organising books (plus getting free cups of tea!). These are only a few of the things I get up to in a day, though. Needless to say, it’s a great demonstration of your versatility and enthusiasm for the causes of the charity.
It gets you out and about
I cannot emphasize enough how helpful my volunteering role has been in breaking up my days and ensuring I get enough social contact to keep insanity at bay. I’ve gotten to know most of the other volunteers, from Robin the retired gardener to Holly the recent university graduate, and everyone has been so welcoming.
Volunteering is also an ideal way to feel more involved with the community. Chatting to the customers about books and swapping recommendations is a real pleasure, and it’s also reignited my appreciation for my local highstreet, which is struggling more than ever due to the pandemic and the long term nationwide high street crisis. Volunteering in charity shops shows support for these physical stores and helps to keep them lively.
It builds your confidence
Before volunteering, I was nervous about talking to the general public and having to think on my feet – such as when the till malfunctions and I have to do mental maths! Without sounding cheesy, I now feel more self-assured in my abilities and can take the skills I’ve learned in this role forward.
If you have the time to, I would highly recommend looking into volunteering positions. You don’t necessarily have to stay local, but what is vital is that you enjoy the work and care about the charitable causes. Aside from walking into charity shops like I did, you can look on your council’s website or Do It for opportunities, and here is the government’s volunteering resource. If you already have a particular organisation in mind then contact them directly, and reap the benefits of volunteering!