I started volunteering at a Brownies group in Reading two months ago and I already feel like I have benefited so much from it. I recently helped out with a pantomime production, saw a new member say her Promise, and went on a trip to the Cotswold Outdoor Store to learn how to put up tents and pack a rucksack for an expedition. We celebrated World Thinking Day which involves giving thought to others involved in the Girl Guiding community around the world, and we tried a range of foods from across the globe, including the American campfire classic ‘s’mores’ and the Australian treat ‘Fairy Bread’ which is buttered bread with sprinkles on top.
Volunteering whilst at university enhances your CV because it shows that you can manage your time well to fit in activities other than studying. Aside from that, there is something about spending time with children that gets you out of the rut of adult life and makes you appreciate the little things in life the way kids do. University life is so encompassing that it has the potential to become overwhelming at times, so adding something a bit different to your timetable provides a much needed break and change of scene.
It is never too late in the year or too late in your degree to get active with volunteering. If you start volunteering now, consider how much difference you could make simply within the next few months. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking about how you could make a difference:
- Reading Voluntary Action: http://rva.org.uk/volunteering/
This website provides a regularly updated list of the volunteering opportunities in Reading. These include a whole range of options, such as being a helper at a half marathon, a museum guide, a friend to an isolated elderly person, helping on a canal boat trip for disabled people, serving tea and cakes, being an editor for a newsletter, or promoting a cause on social media. In whatever way you want to volunteer, this website has something on offer for everyone.
- Being a Scout or Girl Guide Leader: https://www.berkshirescouts.org.uk/
A really fun and high-energy volunteer job, being a Scout or Girl Guide Leader is perfect for people who like working with children and provides a great opportunity to make a difference to the lives of young people.
- Reading Rep: http://www.readingrep.com/volunteer/
Reading Rep need people to volunteer behind the scenes of the theatre and running the box office and bar, so if you like acting and drama this could be for you.
- Volunteering within the university: https://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/readingexperienceanddevelopmentaward/Doing/reda-volunteeringopportunities.aspx
If you are looking to keep your volunteering close to home on campus, then take a look at this website. As part of the Red Award, the university has a page about the volunteer positions that can be held throughout the university. Some examples of these include being a Course Rep, a committee member of a RUSU society, a Fresher’s Angel, and a STaR mentor.
- Camp Thailand: https://summercampthailand.com/
Fancy pushing the boat out and volunteering further afield? With Camp Thailand you can volunteer teaching English as a foreign language and help out with elephant conservation.
- Plan My Gap Year: https://www.planmygapyear.co.uk/
This travel company offers lots of different volunteer abroad opportunities from building a school in Ghana to helping at a hospital in Sri Lanka without having to break the bank to get there.
These are just a few suggestions of ways to get involved in volunteering, but the list is endless, and there really is something for everyone. So now it’s up to you: how will you make a difference?