It’s safe to say that volunteers are the heart of the charity sector. Well-intentioned and motivated people giving their time and energy to supporting causes they care about, enable charities to create impactful change. However, the benefits of volunteering span far beyond the charity sector alone… particularly when it comes to the world of work. Volunteering is one of the most effective ways of developing your skills and gaining valuable experience; all the more so for chronically ill people. If your former educational and employment path has been disrupted by your condition, leaving you feeling as though your CV is somewhat lacking or could do with some updated experience, volunteering offers an ideal middle ground for boosting your assets and demonstrating your employability. Typically, people think of volunteering opportunities as hands-on, practical work. Some people may thrive from being on their feet and busy, finding ways to adapt their tasks to accommodate their condition. For others, this approach simply won’t be feasible. Not to fear, though: sometimes the very best volunteering opportunities arise from getting a little creative.
Flexible, inclusive volunteer roles are on the rise. Many charities and organisations run regulated schemes (some of which can be found here), encouraging volunteers to take on training and placements to gain experience whilst supporting their work. If no existing schemes spark your interest, approaching new contacts and offering your time and skills can be incredibly valuable for both parties. Tips and ideas for finding and establishing your own opportunities can also be found in this post.
Think about your employment goals, and how volunteering might tie in with them. If you hope to pursue digital marketing, consider whether there are any PR agencies that could use an intern. If you’re training to be an accountant, reach out to local practices and see if they run any outreach schemes. If you’re interested in advocacy or social change, approach campaigns and enquire about whether they’re looking for people to help champion their cause. Think about your ideal scenario, securing volunteering that will benefit you and enhance your employability, and then take some time reflecting on what you could offer them in return. When you’re ready, simply send them an outreach email expressing your interest, and outlining your skills and any necessary requirements, such as maximum time commitment or working remotely. And then we cross our fingers for a positive response!
Most importantly, never forget your worth: chronic illness or no chronic illness, every person has so much to offer. Giving your time and skills to a deserving cause not only enhances your own employability: it can be an incredibly fulfilling experience too. Think about what you as a person could offer to an initiative that resonates with you, and enjoy the knowledge that you’re genuinely making a difference along the way. Never forget that you are capable of incredible things.
(Article by Astriid, the charity looking to help people dealing with chronic illness find meaningful employment)