What volunteering means to me?

I’ve been involved in volunteering for many years, both as a volunteer and working with and for voluntary and community organisations. I’ve always known how valuable it was and could, no doubt, have come up with various statistics on its contribution to GDP.
But my recent experiences have really brought home to me what it can mean for individuals.
Like many others in these austere times, last year I was faced with redundancy. I decided to take the opportunity to set up my own business while continuing my PhD studies.
Starting up a business and post-grad research can be lonely undertakings. It’s easy to become isolated.
Or it would have been if I hadn’t got more involved in volunteering too. Volunteering helps you stay connected.
My voluntary policy work for VONNE and Newcastle CVS has helped me keep up to date with the latest policy developments, refresh and extend my skills – and some new ones – and it’s helped me be part of a network of people whose knowledge and passion have helped me stay motivated.
Closer to home, I’ve become chair of my local community centre. It’s really important for people to feel connected to their community and local centres deliver these connections in spades.
It’s great to see volunteers of all ages and backgrounds helping their communities and gaining valuable skills. And now when I tell people how great volunteering can be for them, I can speak from the heart as well as the head.