BLOG: Why Volunteer In Your Local Community?
Diane Wilson is the Senior Development Officer here at Impact Funding Partners. Her role is to oversee the management of all our funds which involves building relationships with stakeholders, developing new funds, evaluation of services and providing capacity building support to the third sector. In this piece Diane talks about her wealth of experience in the third sector, volunteering and how getting involved in your local community can do the world of good.
I have volunteered in my local community for as long as I can remember.
When I started a family, I had moved house and didn’t know anyone in the area. Getting involved in your local community through your children’s activities is a great way to meet people and I built up a strong support network through toddler groups, etc. I supported the pre-school with fundraising and became a committee member. I volunteered in the primary school as a parent helper.
The welfare of children and young people has always been a vital and important issue for me. Looking back, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that I would one day work for Children in Need assessing funding applications and helping to distribute money to organisations across the country to support our most disadvantaged children and young people. The challenges and hurdles young people need to overcome can be overwhelming, especially in today’s world where it is expected nearly 1 in 3 of all adolescents aged 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. This has largely been put down to the rise of social media which can promote negative experiences. Now more than ever, young people need help and guidance.
Volunteering with my local Brownie unit has given me the most joy and positive experience.
I originally joined for the same reason as many others get involved with volunteering – to give back to my community. As old as a cliché as that might sound, it’s the truth. Local Brownie units across the country routinely close because of a lack of volunteers and leaders to help take them forward. The never-ending list of social benefits the children receive from being part of the group is enough inspiration and motivation for me to keep going.
I find it such a joyous and positive way to end my week. Seeing a room full of 7 to 10 year olds be themselves, having fun, making new friends, and learning new skills in a safe and nurturing environment will never get boring to witness. I have seen shy girls join our unit who then leave full of confidence, who have become a talkative and positive young person, and having made a host of new friends from different schools and backgrounds. I have supported a number of young girls who have volunteered with us for their Duke of Edinburgh award and a young woman who overcame many obstacles to obtain her Girlguiding leadership qualification, her university degree and has just landed her dream job overseas.
I received support from a Girlguiding area mentor to complete my leadership qualification after a short time volunteering. 8 years later I still enjoy what I do, and still get a lot out of giving up my time to make a difference in my local community. I now jointly run my local unit and take a lead in fundraising, book-keeping and keeping a good relationship with the parents while ensuring the young people who are involved have fun and get the most out of their time with us.
It is something to feel good about, I don’t think anyone should be nervous to admit they benefit too. I have had some great experiences and made friends for life. Volunteering is just as much about your own development as it is about the people you are helping. I encourage anyone and everyone I meet to take that leap of faith and volunteer.
It doesn’t matter what it is. Once you start you will wonder why you never did it sooner.