You’ve discovered that helping others makes you happy. Or perhaps you’ve moved to a new city and want to make connections in the local community. Either way, volunteering is a great way to do just that - and make a real difference in people’s lives.
Whether you’re freshly graduated or want to use your expertise to give back during your retirement, there are plenty of organisations that would love to have you on board. Here are just a few ideas for how you could get involved to make your community a better place, and utilise your skills and passions at the same time.
1. Reducing food waste
If the idea of perfectly good food going in the bin makes you queasy, you can help by transporting surplus food to a charity that can feed hungry bellies, or do some basic food prep in a soup kitchen. When you have a moment, you might also lend a listening ear to their customers over a brew.
2. Working in a charity shop
If you love interacting with people or want to get some customer service experience (often referred to as a “super skill” these days), working in your local charity shop could be perfect for you. You might also want to try your hand at visual merchandising, or if you aren’t so keen on the customer facing aspect, you can help sort donated stock instead.
Would you like to provide companionship to someone who’s lonely? Over a million older people in the UK go for over a month without speaking to anyone. So whether you’re having a friendly conversation with an elderly person or spending time with a disabled young person, socialising with them for just a couple of hours can make a big difference.
4. Social media
Many charities don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to get the best out of their social channels and engage with their audience. So if you’re a digital native or someone who has some personal or professional experience with social media, you could do wonders to boost their social marketing.
Since plants and weeds will always grow, the green fingered among you will always be in high demand. You might like to help maintain a communal green area, work with vulnerable adults to use gardening as therapy, or teach others how to grow their own food.
Want a bit of fresh air for a few hours a week? Get in touch with where your food comes from by helping out on your local community farm - clean out the animals, plant seeds or harvest some delicious produce!
7. Building and carpentry
Being good with your hands enables you to help with a variety of tasks – from general maintenance, constructing furniture and fencing, or even a larger project like a building. You might get the run of a charity’s own workshop if there’s one available.
If you fancy yourself a bit of a wordsmith, you could help local organisations with guest blogs, compile their monthly newsletter and write website copy. Those with professional experience might like to offer advice for a content strategy.
Charities increasingly recognise the value of photos to help tell their story and drive supporters. You could capture some snaps at local events, or take photos of animals that arrive at your community’s re-homing centre. It’s a great opportunity to build up your portfolio, too.
10. Animal socialising
Many people love animals but aren’t in a position to have their own pet for a variety of reasons. So socialising with the animals at a local shelter is an enjoyable way to enrich their lives. Dog walking is very popular, and you can even do some “cat cuddling” as well. Less popular pursuits include playing with the ferrets – so consider the smaller animals too!
If you’re a fan of the arts, stewarding events can be a fun evening out. You’ll usually get free tickets to shows in return for your time. Look out for ongoing vacancies at your local theatre, or opportunities at an charity event in the city.
Consider yourself a bit of an energy champion, exercise bunny or recycling hero? If you feel passionate about spreading good ideas, you might like to be an ambassador for a local cause by distributing flyers, speaking or making connections.
Would you love an appreciative ear while you play or sing? Take your musical talents to your local care home or children’s hospital. It’ll light up their day, and yours.
Having a clean driving license and your own transport can make the activities in the list easier, especially if the beneficiary or charity is difficult to get to. You can also help by giving your neighbour a lift to their hospital appointment or, if you have a 4x4, transporting (or rescuing) people in the snow.
If you’re Mary Berry when it comes to baking, or running 26 miles appeals to you, why not try fundraising to support a charity in your neighbourhood? Perhaps you’re supremely well connected, and can gather up some momentum for your challenge!
If you have skills that haven’t been mentioned in the list, don’t be afraid to contact a charity directly and let them know what you can offer. Why not check out current volunteering opportunities on neighbourly? You can sign up to events you like with the click of a button.
Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.