Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Kindness has its own reward, like first aid for the soul. While I'm not religious, I do agree with the principles which cite being good to others and treating people as you would wish to be treated.
One of the strangest emotions I've felt in the last few months as I've undertaken a large amount of voluntary work is a weird sense of indulgence. Even as I slowly get back to paid work, (welcome back Wimbletech!), it doesn't really feel like I've been out of the game, despite my freelance work drying up when lockdown kicked in. This is because I've been keeping myself busy by using my skills to help charitable organisations, rather than fruitlessly looking for work when the hospitality industry shut down - which would have depressed me and spiralled me down a terrible hole where I would have ended up doing nothing but ironing and watching The O.C. while my brain slowly rotted...
Here are some ways in which volunteering pays...
It's a gift for your mental heath
I struggle when I'm not working because of a need to be actively doing something for fear of my brain rotting if I'm dormant. Achieving things for people and organisations that need support is an amazing tonic for the inert mind - even though I feel slightly guilty sometimes for feeling so good about my volunteer work, because if people weren't in a bad situation, they wouldn't need help. Studies have proven that volunteering can really improve your mental health, and it makes me so happy to see that some educational organisations, such as Leeds University are actively encouraging their students to volunteer.
It broadens your mind
When volunteering, you can come into contact with people who are in some unimaginable situations, which can be incredibly grounding. Because of this, it helps you to be less judgmental, and more empathetic and open to trying to understand situations, rather than immediately passing judgement. Empathy is a beautiful skill, but one you really have to work on and volunteering can certainly enable you to hone it. Volunteering also allows you to work alongside people you might never have spent time with, who you can learn a lot from.
You can set personal goals - and feel great when you reach them
Lockdown has allowed me room to reflect, and through writing this blog and dedicating myself to voluntary work, I've actually made the decision to focus more on the non-profit sector because I want to make a difference somewhere. I've already reached some goals (publishing this blog was one of them), but there are so many more I want to achieve.
It adds focus to a blurry situation
It can be really easy to slip into a fog, especially when your work dries up overnight as it did at the beginning of lockdown for me. I've set myself targets with the organisations I've been volunteering with, ensuring that if I'm actually going to be spending time doing something, I need to know that I'm making a difference and not wasting my (or their) time.
Where to go to Volunteer:
There are so many places where you can find your perfect volunteer role. Even if you only have a couple of hours a week, there is an organisation out there to whom it will be priceless.
National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Volunteering Matters, Charity Job, Your Local Mutual Aid Group, Furlonteer, Furloughed.Life, Media Trust, Volunteer Match, Vuva Volunteering, Points of Light, UNV Online Volunteering.