Learning through voluntary work

Volunteering is a great way to use your skills to help others, and at the same time learn something new which may lead to a qualification. There are many volunteering opportunities so it's worth thinking about what you want to do and what you want to get out of it.

Volunteering and learning

As a volunteer you may get the chance to develop new skills, and put into practice existing skills. Although you won't receive payment, you could have your expenses or training costs covered. There are all sorts of reasons to volunteer, including:

  • helping others and your local community
  • meeting new people
  • taking part in something which is important to you
  • making a difference
  • doing something you enjoy
  • developing your interests
  • learning something new
  • gaining experience and improving your CV
  • boosting your job prospects

Getting involved

Once you've decided that you'd like to volunteer, you can search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Some volunteering roles will suit you more than others so it's worth thinking about why you want to volunteer, how much time you have available and what skills you can offer.

Training opportunities for volunteers

If you want to volunteer to help boost your career, think carefully about the skills and experience you need. Don't be afraid to be upfront about this when you apply for opportunities - as long as you are willing to show commitment to your voluntary work, most organisations will welcome the fact that it could have benefits for you. Volunteering can give you a broad range of learning opportunities:

  • many volunteer placements will allow you to study and develop your 'key skills', the skills you need to get on in the workplace, in learning and in life
  • some volunteers receive vocational training in specialist areas such as social care, working with the elderly, or working with children
  • some roles require specific training such as volunteering as a special constable with your local police force

The organisation you work for usually covers your training costs and expenses in exchange for your time and commitment.

Volunteering outdoors and overseas

You can volunteer with The National Trust for a range of opportunities including full-time, working holidays and employee volunteering. If you want to go further afield you can volunteer overseas through Voluntary Service Overseas.

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