Volunteering is an excellent use of your spare time to meet people, build your CV and most importantly help others! However, it is hard to know where to start or what opportunities are best for you. Whether you are volunteering for your Duke of Edinburgh or just want to make a small change to peoples’ lives, there is something for you.
- If you love animals but perhaps can’t commit to having a fluffy friend for life, fostering or helping your local Blue Cross is an excellent alternative. What could be better than doing some good by simply spending some quality time with some animals.
- Maybe you are a dog lover and also want to make a more significant difference. You could raise a puppy to be a guide dog, raising an adorable puppy while also changing someone’s life! A lot of patience and commitment is important for this, however there is a shortage of guide dogs in the UK! If you are not quite up for the time commitment but still would like to support the cause, you can also sponsor a little guide dog in training.
- If you want to make a difference closer to home there are many wildlife conservation groups in Oxfordshire. In which you would meet like minded people in the local area and explore the outdoors. A great idea for a social volunteering role.
If you want to explore a little further from home, volunteering is a brilliant way to do it. There are thousands of schemes across the world although it is a little pricier than sticking to Oxford…
- Go Overseas shows options all across the globe, although these can be pricey they are a good option for those who are going on a gap year (and perhaps working to be able to do so) or want to meet people from all over the world.
- For those who don’t want to completely empty their pockets, World Packers is a site where people from all over advertise work or volunteer roles in exchange for accommodation. Although make sure to do your research to make sure the opportunity you are going for is safe. World packers have more than 3.5 million hosts and travellers across the world, meaning you can find a place to stay in almost any country.
- Or simply do a quick google for volunteering in your place of choice and hundreds of schemes will appear, whether you are planning for just a couple of weeks or a year.
A little closer to home:
Perhaps you are still in school or find you have a little space in your week, if so here are some opportunities for you.
- There are little charity shops scattered all over Oxford, many in need of volunteers to help out. Having volunteered at Scope in Summertown for a couple of years I would recommend this to any younger aspiring volunteers. It is a good experience to build up to your first job as you work in a team whilst having fun, and you can even do it with a friend. To find opportunities near you, just pop into the shop and ask if they need volunteers at the moment.
- If you are 16 or 17 the National Citizen Service (NCS) is a government subsidised scheme costing only £50. You learn valuable skills such as public speaking and support a cause. I participated in NCS last year and we formed a social enterprise and collected donations and raised money for the Oxfordshire homeless population. This looks great on your university application and I am still friends with people I met there.
- To find more local opportunities, the Oxfordshire volunteers site allows you to discover volunteer roles near you. Here you can search for opportunities and filter them by age, type of volunteering and distance. They have everything from high profile volunteer roles such as school governors to marshalling charity events and looking after orphaned wild animals
- Perhaps you want to learn something new while volunteering, if so being a Samaritan provides you with training for assisting people in crisis. If you are a listening volunteer you pick up calls to help people when they need you the most.
Run your own fundraising event:
This can be great fun and is doable at any age. If you are passionate about a certain cause it is simpler than you might imagine to organise a fundraiser. Create an sponsored event then collect donations through GoFundMe, you can raise funds from setting up a charity sale while clearing out your old books and other items, or perhaps baking and sell your goods. There are so many different options, both big and small.
At the age of 15 my friends and I organised a walk around the coast of the Isle of Wight for the Stroke Association and managed to raise over 1k! At times it was exhausting and quite eventful (there was a situation involving almost being blown off a cliff in a tent in a storm on my birthday) however entirely worth it at the end.