We often say that it is all about quality rather than quantity, so despite a small number of participants, I am delighted that we were able to organise an ‘Introduction to Volunteering’ workshop. The session was led by #TeamHerts Volunteering, an organisation based in Hertfordshire, which is commissioned to run ‘volunteering provision’ in the county.

All 4 of us who attended the session got a lot out of it! I was delighted to have met the Volunteering Relationship Manager from Teens Unite Fighting Cancer as well as a Managing Director from Wiggs Ltd, local carpentry and building firm. These sort of networking events always provide a fantastic opportunity for learning and enhancing our understanding on what are the actual benefits of volunteering.

Why volunteer?

So why volunteer? What are the advantages of volunteering? Why is it important to encourage people to volunteer? What is the point of doing things for ‘nothing’? This ‘selfless act’ of doing ‘stuff for free’ can help to boost our CV’s or enhance our opportunities for better employment. It also has a very important social dimension. It allows us to utilize our skills and talents but it also enables us to support those who are in need or maybe less fortunate that us. What is more, volunteering can positively impact our emotional wellbeing - feeling valued and appreciated is so important! The beauty of volunteering is that it is flexible. There are no age limits to volunteering and research shows that volunteering becomes a habit if we start to volunteer at a younger age.

I really think that volunteering should be a cornerstone and foundation of any successful society. It ought to be always well supported by Central and Local Government. Yes, the appropriate infrastructure is needed and it should be well funded in order for the community and voluntary sector to thrive. I think that volunteering is essential in terms of creating a thriving and successful society which we all want to be part of. In many ways, volunteering creates opportunities for social, cultural and economical growth.

People often say – ‘I am too busy so I can’t really volunteer’. I agree, we all have so many commitments; however I always try to challenge this view! The beauty of volunteering is that you do it when you want and can. You do it when you feel it is right for you, bearing in mind your own circumstances & various priorities. ‘Every little helps’ and volunteering allows you to dedicate an hour to a particular cause which is close to your heart. But even if we can’t do that, we can always ask our elderly neighbours whether they need a bit of shopping or a lift to the church. Opportunities to make a difference are simply endless! For me, being there for the other person, putting a smile on someone’s face is simply priceless.

How is volunteering relevant to the Big Local Project?

It hugely relates to the ‘ethos’ of the Big Local. This initiative brings together local skills, energy and creativity to make our area, Wormley and Turnford, a better place to live. More importantly, the direction and delivery of Wormley and Turnford Big Local is guided by a partnership of resident volunteers through consultation with the local community. So volunteering is one of the key elements of our project and we hope to recruit many more ‘Big Local Ambassadors’ in the near future!

Volunteering truly works in a magical way! It requires a lot of work and preparation, however, if properly set up, it is such a fantastic and rewarding journey. Both the individual who learns new skills and feels empowered and a local group or charity which needs an extra pair of hands will benefit enormously from volunteering. As I said before, volunteering not only helps to boost our confidence and strengthens our CV but it also opens our horizons!

Whatever we do, wherever we are - let’s keep volunteering!

Michal Siewniak

Community Development Manager. For more information, visit the Wormley and Turnford Big Local website.