Thanks to a kind share of a Volunteers’ Week post on LinkedIn, I got to thinking about volunteering in the current crisis.
There seems little doubt that there have been truly magnificent (don’t like the term ‘hero’) efforts by so many to support those in their time of need. Of course we work with people whose time of need is always, but for now, that’s a separate issue.
Many now understand the power of community, kindness and compassion in ways they perhaps didn’t before and I welcome this. As unkindness drips back into our lives and our sector (as others) fights for its survival, I can imagine there being a surge in new volunteering opportunities as well as willing volunteers.
Whilst I too welcome this, as running an organisation that is not only going to see increased demand for our Volunteer Mentors, but will be seeking not one, but two Non-Executive Directors later this month, I am cautious too about some of the messaging around volunteering.
We can be in little doubt of its benefits for CV building, self-confidence and skills development. For many however, giving up time for free is a privilege (just look at the profile of your average volunteer).
We must not build our volunteer army as some cheap substitute for jobs that pay. People, especially young people living independently without parental support, need decent jobs in order that they might have the privilege of volunteering one day too.