In my career I have seen so often the value of volunteering, or working for free. The rewards are enormous, often greater than your investment of time and effort. We had the privilege of working with many volunteers to open the Butterfly Box, a pop-up retail charity shop that sells high quality and designer fashion, mostly new but some previously loved. It will change the way the public perceive charity shops, situated at Threads in Albert Road, Woodstock. It was the really busy people who found time to help sourcing stock, collecting fashion from retailers and designers, price and merchandise the items. Helpers came from far and wide, and many of them united into the team because they shared a common purpose, they believe in the ethos and work of Hospice and palliative care. It made sense for use to approach people who had experience of retail and fashion, and they have been most supportive.
If you are starting your career, returning to work after a gap year or sabbatical or even maternity leave, how do you make a start? Consider giving your time for free. You will be rewarded with increased self-esteem, a sense of purpose, you will meet interesting people and also glean experience that can be crafted into value in your CV. Even those who are between jobs or recently retired, have myriad skills and contacts that can be put to good use.
How do you start?
- Research a field or industry you feel passionate about. Find out if they use volunteers and if they have a volunteer co-ordinator.
- Ensure that the work of the organisation resonates with your core values.
- If you love children, animals or the environment, start with that.
- Consider the organisation’s needs, not just yours.
- Check out their activities on the website – in the run-up to an event they are sure to want extra hands.
- You may have to get involved in something initially that is not really what you want to be doing, but it will be a foot in the door.
- If you are shy or intimidated by meeting new people, consider roping in a friend or family member to join you.
Try, if possible, to use your skills, but if there is not an opening that makes use of them, ensure that you do communicate them so that you get known for what you do well. You will be appreciated and be made to feel like an integral part of a team. What a great reward for your investment of time and effort. After all, isn’t everyone in business looking for a good return on investment? See you at Threads!