Advantages Increases Self-esteem; Benefits the community; A way to get into/back to work
Disadvantages Unpaid (so what!)
But ‘volunteering’, as in working for no pay for the benefit of others who could not normally afford your services, has much more impact than that I have already described.
I hate the word volunteer, when referring to volunteering per se. It gives me the impression that any other work is done through coercion and ultimatums. It’s also a very weak word. ‘Volunteer’. Kids volunteer to be monitors at school (no milk, Maggie, no milk!). I might volunteer to cook the meal tonight (If I don’t, I starve!).
Question: Are Category Assistants on Ciao, ‘volunteers’?Well yes, they volunteer for the position, of course. Benefit? Endless benefit to the ‘community’ through advice, assistance, co-operation, reporting etc etc. Benefits to them? Mmmmm. Recognition maybe: financial nope.
What about Mrs Smith who pops in to see 84 year old Mrs Jones every day. She makes sure she’s safe; collects her pension (without pocketing a tenner for herself!); does a spot of cleaning; has a coffee and a chat…Is that ‘volunteering’?
Of course it is!Why am I defining this ‘job’ called ‘volunteering’?
Because, firstly ‘volunteering’ may, to some people, not be a job. Secondly, it isn’t only organised volunteering that counts and thirdly, it’s the end result that matters. The end result being a safer and friendlier Ciao or a happier, safer Mrs Jones.Onto what volunteering has meant to me.
When I was 17, I was involved in doing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and was working towards my Silver award. As part of gaining the award I had to participate in three months Community Service, either through helping an organisation or a local project.Our DofE group was connected with the local youth club that had a once-weekly youth group for 11-14 year olds. Another DofE bod and myself decided to set up a ‘Tuck Shop’ for the youth club for our Community Service.
With a £20 loan from the youth club funds, we bought stock from a Cash and Carry, pricemarked items, set up and sold our meagre selection of wares.Within a few weeks, the tuck shop was breaking into profit very quickly and within 3 months we were keeping £100 worth of stock and had paid back the loan.
After a year, others were becoming involved and we were making a tidy profit (which was being used to buy equipment for the youth club). Quite a success from humble beginnings, I think. I know we’re hardly talking Richard Branson material, but we actually got a buzz out of the amount of profit that we were making and the extras that we were providing for the members (which not only included the footballs, CD’s for the jukebox, Disco hire and other things we were able to buy, but also a good variety of sweets, drink and crisps that they could buy at cheap prices).It all sounds like I was complete goody-goody when I was a teenager (I had a dark side as well, honest!), but I did have selfish reasons for continuing to co-run the tuck shop for 2 years.
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