By Chloe Creed
15th February 2018
Hi there! Today I’m going to talk to you about VOLUNTEERING!
As you know, Face Forward is all about supporting young people to break up with their barriers, discover their ambitions and interests, and feel more confident and ready for life…Sometimes, volunteering can be the best way to achieve these goals – as well as have fun!
Last week, I interviewed Claire, Face Forward Volunteering Coordinator, and I’d like to share her fantastic knowledge with everyone – and hopefully inspire more young people to give volunteering a go! Keep reading to find out more about fabulous volunteering opportunities in Dorset!
1 – Hi Claire, could you tell us about your role at Face Forward?
As the Volunteering Coordinator, I’m responsible for finding placements for the Face Forward participants. A big part of my role is to visit local organisations and see if they would take volunteers, and then make sure that everything is set up for our participants so they have a wonderful experience!
- What roles/industries can young people volunteer in?
There is a wide range of volunteering opportunities to suit all interests and abilities. For some placements you have to be 18, but there are many roles at 16+ including customer service, arts, retail, wildlife conservation, cafes, heritage, stewarding, welcoming and volunteering with animals, children, young people or the elderly.
- Some young people are shy or don’t like crowded places…do you think that everyone can find a role that suits them?
Yes, I believe there’s something for every taste! To give you a few examples, Pause Cat Café in Bournemouth offers various roles, ranging from customer service in the mornings, to playing with cats in the afternoon! So, if you love cats, this might be the one for you! Another example is the Shire Hall Project in Dorchester, where you could show visitors round jail cells in the basement or the courtroom upstairs.
If you like the sea there are several charities asking for help with beach cleans, and if you are great with animals maybe the Donkey Sanctuary might suit you. I’d recommend you spend some time researching the area you are interested in, ask around, and use the internet - it’s amazing what you can find!
- How can volunteering be beneficial for you?
Volunteering can be a stepping stone to developing your career, or an enjoyable and worthwhile activity in itself. It should make you feel like you’ve gone out there and made a difference which is fantastic for mind, body and spirit.
Here’re some of the many benefits of volunteering:
- Learn new skills
- Meet new people and make new friends
- Improve your team work, communication, organisation
- Gain experience - which you can put on your C.V.
- Get a reference for future work
- Have fun and combine your interests / use existing skills
- Keep yourself physically active – good for body and mind
- Feel a sense of satisfaction and wellbeing for making a difference
- What should young people consider before volunteering or choosing a company to volunteer for?
First and foremost, you need to know that your volunteering experience is going to be enjoyable
and safe. Some top tips to make sure this happens:
- Choose a registered charity: do they have a charity number? Look them up, ask people about them – do they have a good track record? If in doubt check with your local Volunteer Centre (Dorchester, Poole or Bournemouth).
- Make sure it is clear what you are going to do. A task description or volunteer handbook is helpful, or a meeting with the volunteer manager where they tell you what the role involves before you start. You should receive an induction and training on your first day.
- Do some research: do you know anyone who has volunteered there before? Ask them what it was like. Or search online for volunteer’s comments about their experience.
- Do a trial day: you don’t have to commit yourself until you have been along and had a go. If it’s not for you that’s OK.
- Make sure you’re prepared. Ask about what clothes and equipment you will need - do they provide it or do you need to bring anything, e.g. waterproofs, wellies, uniform, etc.?
- Make sure you can get there: is there public transport? Can you cycle? Some placements will offer travel expenses if it’s fairly local.
- How does Face Forward support participants to volunteer?
If you’re part of the Face Forward programme, you can choose volunteering as one of your activities. Your advisor will discuss with you how it fits in with your goals; it may be that you want to meet new people and make friends, or that you want to get experience which looks great on your C.V.
As the Volunteer Co-ordinator, I will then suggest a few options for you. Either your adviser or peer-apprentice will visit one or two with you to choose the one that’s right for you. We won’t send you off on your own until you’re ready. Usually you would start by doing one day a week and, if you love it, build up from there.
To sign up for Face Forward you need to be 15-24 years old. Call us to see if you’re eligible on 01202 677557.
- Why is volunteering an important thing to do?
We all want to feel that we’ve contributed something worthwhile during our time on earth.
Many charities can’t operate without their volunteers, as they play such an important part in keeping the service going. The work that these organisations do makes the world a better place; saving lives, enabling medical research, alleviating poverty, treating injured animals, improving the environment, keeping culture and history alive, befriending the sick and lonely…the list goes on!
Find something that you are passionate about and do something to help make a difference.
- Are there any participants on Face Forward that have already volunteered or are volunteering?
We have had people volunteer at a village store and café, a football club, a wildlife reserve, a farm, an animal rescue centre and a history centre. Here’s some of their comments:
Jack, Face Forward participant who volunteered on a Farm, said on his first day: ‘I helped feed the animals and shovelled some compost, everybody is very nice and hopefully it should continue to go well next week.'
Face Forward participant who volunteered on a nature reserve said: ‘It’s quite rewarding work. You are working in a really nice place – quiet. You’re left to do what you want – there’s not much pressure.’
I hope this has given you a better idea for volunteering and hopefully you will want to volunteer now or in the future!
Face Forward is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the National Lottery Community Fund.