Volunteering; good for your experience and more often than not, benefiting those in situations less fortunate than yourself. In the last few years there has been a surge of young people volunteering for good causes and filling their time more constructively. Having volunteered for over 360 hours myself, I feel that it is very fulfilling to know that you are doing something that you enjoy and give something back to the community or a good cause at the same time.

In the last few years, the number of young people who volunteer regularly has shot up to over 1 million. It is great to see many people, no matter their personal circumstances, going out and making a difference, even if it is in small steps. The usual argument is that volunteering looks good on your CV, however, charities especially are appealing to the younger generation through calling for those who want to change something in the world to volunteer.

This is something that, despite being used as a way to appeal to young people to volunteer, is largely true. There is one thing that even by just wanting to volunteer, we are changing. For too long the media perception of young people has been that we are all thugs, criminals or couch potatoes. This is something that cannot be said to be true, especially when young people, together, commit thousands of hours of volunteering a week.

The very act of volunteering means that in your own small way, you are making a big impact. This may seem contradictory, however, take the example of a charity shop. In these charities, much of the money which they get is restricted and can only be used to help in certain areas, however, all income from shops of this kind is not. This, in a nutshell, means that the money raised through these can be used wherever it is most needed.

In the places that charities carry out their work, volunteers are able to see the situation first hand, enabling them to get stuck in to give the effort that they have to make peoples’ lives better. Additionally, the nature of volunteering means that there is an opportunity for every field of work, every interest and every hobby. This, in turn, means that the youth of today have no “it’s boring” excuse anymore.

Volunteering, to me, is also a form of education. It may not seem it but that’s the wonderful thing about it. Through volunteering you automatically have the chance to develop new skills, sometimes without even realising it. Even in the situations where you consciously know you are learning new skills, this often allows you to work on them more and be proud of what you have achieved.

For some, such as myself, volunteering can become kind of addictive and as long as you have the time, this is no bad thing. A few years ago, the very thought that I would have 360 volunteering hours under my belt would have been a joke. Nevertheless, here I am and I know people who enjoy and get so much out of the volunteering experience that they have done many more hours than myself.

I should also point out that if it wasn’t for the massive army of volunteers, many of this country’s vital services would collapse. To list but a few: Air Ambulance, Mountain Rescue and even the Youth Service. It is debatable whether you would count the Youth Service as a vital service, however, in many cases, it is the lifeblood of young people and in turn, helps greatly in keeping crime and anti-social behaviour down. The so called “third sector” plays a vital role in everyone’s lives, even if they don’t realise it.

Of course, being a volunteer myself I am bound to say this, however, I am all for encouraging anyone to give up just a few hours a week and contribute to making that big difference. Additionally, although I believe this should never be your primary reason for doing it, volunteering also helps in boosting career prospects. Many employers would rather hire keen and experienced candidates than those who have sat around doing nothing.

Overall, the great thing about volunteering is that it is flexible. Flexible to your interests. Flexible to your time and flexible to the skills that you want to develop. It’s fun, constructive and helps with your future. I am very proud of the third sector in this country and very proud to be part of it. Subsequently, this is what you will feel. So, have I convinced you? Why not go into your local community and grab the opportunities available to you? In the long term, it benefits everyone.

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