At a time when the government is pushing everyone possible into work to reduce the welfare bill and gain some much-needed tax revenue it is perhaps unsurprising that fewer people have time to volunteer to help charities.
Charities rely on their volunteers because without them, they would simply not be able to carry out the work that they were set up to do. For example, the RSPCA would have to spend much of the donations they receive on staff wages if volunteers did not keep turning up to help. Volunteers carry out a wide variety of tasks, from administrative duties to helping in charity shops to walking dogs for their local shelter.
Volunteers are often from affluent backgrounds; many are elderly, or students; some are semi-retired late middle aged people looking to use their time productively. Some volunteer because they want to give something back to society, to help those less fortunate than themselves. Others volunteer because they want to mix with more people and make friends, or even just to put something useful on their C.V. to try to impress future employers. The reasons for volunteering do not matter very much to a charity: what does matter is that volunteers give their time on a regular basis; that they can be relied upon to turn up and that they are passionate and enthusiastic about the aims of the charity.
Whether you have one hour or one day to give each week, fortnight or month doesn’t really matter. As long as the charity can rely on you turning up regularly then it can find work for you to do that will be useful and productive. If you can help every day before work, for example, then you might be most useful to an animal charity like the RSPCA in helping to exercise or feed the animals in their shelters. If you can only give one hour a month then perhaps you might be asked to help with stocking shelves or reordering stock for a charity shop, or putting up posters advertising a fundraising event.
Even if you are already working full time and have a house and family to care for, could you possibly find an hour a week? Even if you know that you can only help during your annual leave or school term times, as long as the charity knows when you can help it can find you something meaningful to do.
Volunteers say that they feel a real sense of purpose and reward from giving their time to help a charity. They also make friends, meet plenty of new people and have a very healthy-looking C.V. so you can’t really lose by volunteering your time. If you have any time to spare then please consider contacting a charity that you sympathise with and either ring or look on their website for details of volunteering opportunities in your area.