We couldn’t change young people’s work prospects without our volunteers, and to celebrate National Volunteers’ Week and highlight the many benefits of volunteering – whether that’s with us or another organisation – we’ve spoken to EY Foundation team members about their volunteering experiences…
Volunteering our time is something that my partner and I genuinely enjoy doing in our free time. We get to meet new and interesting people / organisations, we get to refine existing skills and learn new ones, we get to contribute to a socially / environmentally driven organisation, and it feels good! I am currently helping the Bike Project to tidy up some of their research spreadsheets, and my partner is doing some data analysis for The Mix!
I volunteer within my church in a few ways: I run a weekly football game, support Children’s Storehouse (like a food bank but for clothes, toys, books, and baby equipment), and lead a connect group with my wife, where a group of us talk about life, support each other and have a bit of fun! I find it remarkable that even before the pandemic, loneliness was such a major problem in the UK that the government had to appoint a Minister for Loneliness! It’s really difficult to make friends as an adult in your local area but with careful and small efforts it’s possible to create communities and help people find friendships. Football has been brilliant for this, we have tonnes of stories of people who’d moved into the area during lockdown and knew absolutely nobody but now have people people they can trust and call friends locally! If you're interested in volunteering don’t underestimate how important you could be in someone else’s life! Small efforts and small gestures go a long, long way! And to be honest – you’ll make more friends, you’ll have a wonderful time, and it will be the highlight of your day/week/month!
I’ve always done some kind of volunteering outside of work whether that’s as a trustee, governor or community volunteer – it’s something I got into the habit of in school when I was doing DofE and I’ve carried it on since then. At the moment, I volunteer with Visit from the Stork CIC which supports young parents and parents to be. I started volunteering with them in their Stork support service right at the start of Covid – delivering baby essentials to families in hardship across Greater Manchester. I was keen to do something at that time to support the local community in a very practical way. I also volunteer on a couple of local advisory boards and mentor some young people from a local college. I’m also likely to be taking on a new trustee role soon for another local Salford charity that supports homeless and vulnerable people with complex needs. In terms of what I’d say to other people looking to volunteer – for me, it’s just a nice way to support the local community and regardless of how busy you are, you can always find the time for a few hours here and there. You’ll learn a lot along the way, meet new people and occasionally it might also be fun!
I've been volunteering as a first aider at St John’s Ambulance for about a year; I started out as a patient advocate at vaccination centres during the Covid-19 response, and I've been volunteering for the charity for about a year, and the reason I do it is because of the things I learn, the training I receive, the people that I meet during my shifts from different backgrounds and the emotional strength l gain from it. I've learned a lot of life-saving techniques, and as a first aider, I'm grateful to be able to help others in my own community at a young age. My advice to anyone considering volunteering is to consider why you want to do it and what you want to gain from it, it doesn’t matter if you don’t think that you’re good at it as there is always room to learn for new things don’t be afraid, it’s a very rewarding commitment!
I’m part of the Manchester Cares community which is a charity that tackles loneliness across Manchester with older and younger people. I don’t really count it as volunteering because it’s more of a social thing, but I sign up to attend social clubs with my older neighbours like Grub Club, Documentary Club and Desert Island Discs- where we all pick a song based on a theme and have a boogie! It’s really great to be able to connect with my older neighbours as sometimes living alone can be quite isolating and you get to hear stories you’d never hear when you socialise with people in the same age demographic as you. For me, being a part of this community has brought me new friends, the chance to experience new things and even a couple of line dance routines too!
I’ve been involved in various volunteering roles, from supporting my kids’ schools’ PTA to running a toddler group at a local home for the elderly (pre-pandemic) and running street parties for the community. I’m also a volunteer for British Red Cross and can’t wait to work with them more in the future.