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Volunteering for all #VolunteersWeek

This week is Volunteers’ Week in the UK. It is an annual event that provides an opportunity to recognise the contribution that volunteers make to society.  Volunteering is something that is strongly encouraged within the OSCO by myself and my senior management team. In my first blog for June, I will be sharing with you why I believe volunteering is so important and how it benefits our office.

Volunteering isn’t just something that people do when they are on a career break, trying to get work experience or once they have retired. Many people in paid employment, including full-time work, take up one of the thousands of volunteering opportunities available in the UK. Some of those people even work in my office!

I strongly encourage my staff to take up volunteering, and I volunteer myself. Not only is volunteering important to support organisations of all sizes, it makes a positive contribution to the economy. As the numbers show:

  • In 2015, volunteering contributed more than £22bn to the UK economy
  • In 2016/17, 19.8 million people in the UK volunteered formally at least once a year and 11.9 million people volunteered at least once a month[1]

However, those aren’t the only benefits. People who volunteer get personal benefit too. Volunteering can improve an individual’s wellbeing as they connect to other people, learn new skills and dedicate time to something they feel is important and worthwhile.

The skills that volunteers develop can also benefit their employer, while at the same time boosting their own prospects for career progression. When someone volunteers they are not just giving up some of their time, they could be developing industry-specific skills as well as enhancing or developing skills in:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Team work
  • Time management

The benefits from volunteering help to create well rounded and committed individuals. The civil service recognises this by allowing up to 3 days a year to be taken for volunteering activities and this is something that we actively encourage here.

As I mentioned, within our small team, we have many staff who currently volunteer, or have in the past. The work they undertake and the time commitment differs, but each and every one is giving up some of their time to do something they feel passionate about. In return, they are bringing the skills they develop through that activity back into the OSCO for the benefit of us all.

It seems fitting then that this week we say a temporary goodbye to one of our staff members on the business support side of our office. Charlotte, our Business Manager, will be leaving us for a short while to volunteer as a Project Manager on a Raleigh International expedition for 13 weeks in Tanzania. The projects she will be involved in include Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools (SWASH), youth entrepreneurship and building community resilience. In her role, she will be helping the organisation work toward Global Goal 6 which focuses on clean water and sanitation, and ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. These are basic rights that we take for granted each day.

We wish Charlotte the best of luck in her volunteering role and can’t wait to see what new skills she brings back with her and how they will benefit her work at the OSCO.

If you are interested in finding a volunteering opportunity, there are plenty out there. NCVO has some great tips on where to start looking for a volunteering opportunity to suit you on their website – https://www.ncvo.org.uk

[1] Volunteers Week – https://volunteersweek.org/about-volunteers-week/why-is-volunteering-important/