With my experience being a volunteer previously, I believe it is a great way to use your free time to learn, gain experience, upgrade skills and to meet new people (expanding your network).
Before you start volunteering, it is very important to understand the expectations of the position. Sometimes you may find volunteering is not as useful and productive as you expected it to be and remember it is a volunteer role not a job. Sometimes I have questioned myself. Am I learning anything or is what I’m doing going to help me get anywhere, but I have pushed that aside and looked to the positive side. I have thought about what’s going well and working rather than thinking about what’s not.
Currently, working as a Health Advocate Volunteer Co-ordinator, I recruit volunteers all the time and I would like to mention some essential skills you may need to become a good volunteer:
- Communication: it is an essential part of any work but should not be taken lightly when doing voluntary work. If you have any doubt about it, it is appreciated if you express any concerns.
- Being clear about the role: volunteers are expected to know about the role before they start as it helps in long run. Volunteers should be clear about the hours in which they work; where they are volunteering; and who they are responsible to. Having the role description before you start always helps. It provides information about the purpose of the role, key responsibilities and skills requirements.
- Consistency: it is vital that volunteers are able to dedicate time. Furthermore, it is better to discuss this in the initial interview and better to mention when and for how long you can volunteer.
- Starting with an initial interview always helps us to get to know the volunteers and gives an opportunity to find out their experiences, skills and suitability for the role. Moreover, it is important to ensure that they have the interest and motivation to do it.
- Volunteering also provides vital experience to people who want to get into employment for first time. Apart from experience, it helps in building confidence, communication skills and consistency in looking for employment. Not forgetting, it also helps you to get references for jobs.
For more information about Health Advocate Project, click on the link below: