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I would like to make a difference

I would like to make a difference somewhere, and make positive use of my spare time. I am a full time mum with kids at school and I’m struggling to keep myself busy, with anything. I would rather be doing something constructive and for the better good. Where and how do I start?

Maureen

Deafauntie says:

A short question that begs a long answer! For years I have told people that if they want to apply for funding, or to the Lottery, but can’t think of a project, then a Volunteer Agency would be the perfect solution. Matching up volunteers with the right organisation is a full time job in itself. Every charity I know – and some deaf businesses too – say the same thing: far too many people approach them asking about voluntary opportunities, and they often don’t even bother with the requests (shocking but true) because they don’t have enough information to go on.
My advice, therefore, is: treat looking for voluntary work in exactly the same way as you would a job search. State what your interests are. Do you want to work with adults or children? Do you want to work in the office, or with people? Why do you want to volunteer? (if it’s hope that it will lead to a job – forget it) To kill time? To make yourself useful? To improve your typing skills? To buy time to think about a career change?
Be honest with yourself. It’ll make for a much clearer and more coherent application. Once you’ve answered those questions, then research the most suitable organisations to apply to. No point in applying to ChildLine or the NDCS if you hate children. Don’t send out a hundred requests to random companies. They hate that and they’ll hate you. Good luck.

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2 responses to “I would like to make a difference

  1. Hi Maureen, Laraine is absoutely right to advise you to start by deciding what your interests are and what you’ll be looking for as a suitable volunteering opportunity. Once you’ve done this, I’d advise you to have a look at the volunteer website that covers your area. This will give you a good idea of the sorts of things that volunteers can apply to do. I live in Edinburgh and I’ve just looked at their volunteer website. There are 261 opportunities posted, and that’s just in the city centre. They cover a vast range of activities and organisations. But make sure you think about things like your interests, objectives and availability first. Good luck!

  2. In volunteering you have to be clear about what you can offer – apart from your time, of course. What skills do you have which you could put to good use in a volunteer environment? These might be formal skills from previous employment or education, or life experience skills. Sewing and crafting can be put to good use in making things for good causes – to help fundraise, in other words.

    Maybe you’d like to test the water with some low-level volunteering at one of the major charities in the run-up to Christmas, which is a busy time? It can be as simple as making up packs of Christmas cards – I did that one year – or helping to sort out stock in your local hospice shop. None of that is very exciting stuff, but someone has to do it and it can be a good way of bonding with people and building up some experience in the voluntary sector. A deaf friend of mine loves helping in her local charity shop.

    You can see what’s available in your area across different sectors, as Robin suggests, or research charities or organisations in sectors you’re interested in, perhaps an organisation which has benefited you or your family, so that you give something back. It’s the same as getting a job – if you have prior experience, it helps. This doesn’t mean you should be confined to organisations relating to deafness or hearing loss, but perhaps that’s somewhere to start. For example, I volunteer at my hospital – if the occasional candidate for a cochlear implant wants to meet someone who’s been through it, then the hospital will put them in touch with a volunteer who can answer their questions from a user’s perspective. There may be other health or social issues of which you have personal knowledge or care passionately about. You mention you have school-age children. Perhaps you’d like to be a school governor? All sorts of ideas there!

    Best of luck!

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