The Job Hunters - volunteering
This week the Job Hunters looked at the benefits of volunteering. For those out of work volunteering is a chance to achieve the skills and references that employers’ value, gain motivation, meet new people and experience new areas of work.
Some of our Job Hunters were already volunteering. Graduate Gareth Abbott-Haigh helps out at Swim Wales and also with the Air Cadets, teenager Dwayne Landeg is involved with young persons’ homeless charity SYSHP and businessman Alan Goss sits on a number of boards including a Landlord’s Association.
But mum-of-three Gemma Price and ex-factory worker Tim Rees have never had the time to try volunteering, until now. With the help of Swansea Council for Voluntary Service we matched their skills, interests and needs to volunteering opportunities available in Swansea.
After working inside for most of his life, Tim was keen to do something manual outdoors. So we set him up with the team at The Penllergare Trust who look after conservation volunteering at Penllergare Valley Woods.
Volunteer and Training Co-ordinator Ben Monk and Tim got to work thinning a section of woodland, an important job at this time of year to help the growth of stronger trees and allow light into the forest floor.
The Trust is always looking for new volunteers who can help out on a weekly or hourly basis. For more information visit www.penllergare.org.
Volunteering doesn’t have to be something you do alone; many of the volunteering options offer group sessions where you can get to know new people and in some cases the whole family can get involved.
Gemma went to Swansea Community Farm, Fforestfach, a place where people of all ages can learn about the environment, have a hand in growing their own fruit and veg and also look after the animals. The farm is packed with animals from ducks, hens and turkeys to pigs, rabbits and sheep.
To find out more about volunteering or just visiting go to www.swanseacommunityfarm.org.uk
Volunteering: The Facts
- There are volunteer centres, like Swansea Council for Voluntary Service, in every local authority across Wales. You can get personal advice on which volunteering activities will suit you and they will help to set up placements.
- Alternatively you can visit www.volunteering-wales.net and search real time volunteering opportunities across Wales. You can search by location and type of volunteering.
- Don’t limit yourself : you can volunteer in a huge range of different organisations and take on different roles from admin to PR to more hands on volunteering like caring for those in need or helping with conservation and the environment.
- Start slowly: don’t over-commit yourself until you know more about what is involved. It is easier to take on additional time later than to withdraw an early offer. There are volunteering opportunities at all times of the day or night so you should be able to find something that fits in with your life.
- Don’t worry about being out of pocket: it is good practice for organisations to pay volunteers' expenses to cover things like travel expenses and meal allowances. Not all can afford this so make sure you ask when you meet the organisations.
- If you are out of work and claiming benefits you can still volunteer as long as you are “actively seeking work” and are able to take up an offer of work within a week. Make sure you tell the Jobcentre about your volunteering.
- There is often the chance for training and gaining valuable work experience - much of what you do while volunteering can be added to your CV and help when it comes to showing employers what kind of an employee you could be.
- Use this to help get work - if you are out of work at the moment or have never worked, time spent volunteering could be beneficial and give you a reference for future employers.