It can be hard to watch the endless succession of disaster and calamity that makes up our news. Sat comfortably in your arm chair it’s easy to decide that you can’t make a difference to such huge problems. The truth is that you can, and an incredible amount of positive life affirming stories just never get reported. In fact, living situations in the poorest parts of the world have been improved dramatically over the last few decades for many people and this is at least in part due to an increase in people taking time out from their busy lives to volunteer their time.
Volunteer work is one of the most effective ways in which you can directly make a difference to the lives of others and a whole industry has grown up to match volunteers to volunteering opportunities. Perhaps the first question you need to ask yourself is what do you want to offer? Do you want to offer skills you have already acquired through your regular employment or are you looking for something fresh to embark upon.
Don’t get put off if you think you have nothing useful to offer. The ability to be a kind listener, offering support, encouragement, and a sense of humour can go a long way in a lot of situations and may be what has been missing from someone’s life in the past
Volunteering is a two way exchange and it’s important for you to consider what it is you would like to receive in return. You may wish to boost your self-confidence, learn how to work effectively within groups of people, gain a vocational skill, make new friends or find out about a culture. The list is endless, but with a little soul searching or a conversation with a friend you can come up with you own formula. Having this knowledge in place will go some way towards shoring up your motivation when times are tough and will give you a much clearer idea of your place in the volunteering situation.
Your decision to volunteer is hugely personal, but the experiences and lessons of those who have gone before offer valuable insights into what can be achieved and the pitfalls to look out for, so seek advice on the internet via the wealth of websites and forums. This is a great first step in deciding where you want to volunteer. Budget air travel has made the world a smaller place so a great number of exotic locations are within reach if you choose to volunteer overseas. If you are already embarking on a backpacking adventure around the world your options increase dramatically as you can slot in volunteering activities alongside your regular travels. What a great way to experience and learn about new cultures.
Most volunteering opportunities carry a nominal fee so you can expect to pay between £50 and £150 weekly which provides you with food and accommodation. These fees are normally reduced after a couple of weeks, rewarding those who choose to stay longer with a project. Often there is also a one off administration fee when you which can be up to £150.
Whether you choose to volunteer in Africa improving sanitation or working with street kids in Morocco you are sure to have a whole raft of memorable experiences safe in the knowledge you have helped others and made a difference.