According to Action for Happiness, the number one activity that can contribute to personal happiness, is giving. Apparently, our generosity is hard-wired to the reward mechanisms in our brains. When we give our time, energy, and kindness to others it not only helps them, it’s also great for our wellbeing too!
Bearing this in mind and having managed a 450-strong team of volunteers at two North London hospitals, I knew there was a need to grow the Foothold volunteering programme. But it doesn’t just mean recruiting more volunteers. It also means involving volunteers more effectively in our work, ensuring that volunteering is integral to our organisational strategy.
Volunteer experience at Foothold
By offering new ways for volunteers to get involved, we can achieve more in the future by adopting an approach and ethos that puts volunteers and those we help at the centre of our thinking. I want every volunteer – whoever they are, wherever they are based, whatever their role – to have a consistently great experience now and in the future. From the moment they offer their time and talents until they step down from their role. We want to recognise and celebrate their achievements and the impact they have on the individuals who ask us for help.
The talents, passion, and commitment of our volunteers supports our work in many ways. Whether it’s taking a governance role as a Trustee, Ambassadors promoting and supporting us at events, Friendship Team volunteers chatting to lonely or isolated community members and Marcomms volunteers testing and creating content for our social media platforms.
Why do People Volunteer?
Volunteering is many things to many people. And reasons to volunteer vary greatly from one person to the next. But some good ones are:
- developing new friendships and social networks
- practicing existing skills or developing new ones
- giving something back
- gaining practical experience and a reference to increase work prospects
- adding another dimension to a university application form
- trying something different either as a potential career option or career change
- fundraising for a charity close to their heart
- campaigning for a cause they’re passionate about
- helping someone facing a difficult time in their lives
- improving well-being and confidence
Student volunteers often look for a role in the field they’re keen to study or work in. It can give them experience and improve their chances of getting on a particular course or degree. It’s also a good opportunity to find out more about their chosen career path. Volunteering with Foothold is a great way for young people to get involved in an organisation in the engineering community. They’ll see it from many viewpoints: professionals, beneficiaries and the charity.
Our Marcomms volunteer role is a micro volunteering role. It’s great for students because it can take just a few minutes or a few hours and is easy to fit in around studies, part time work and a social life. Micro volunteering is no different to traditional volunteering when it comes to the worthy causes it benefits. This role includes:
- contributing to content goals for our social media platforms
- using social media to amplify our voice
- testing apps
- reviewing playlists, podcasts and blogs
- mystery shopping on our website
In return, students benefit from the unique experience of working with an engineering-related charity and could improve their problem-solving, time management and communication skills. Any time a volunteer gives us their time, they help us to ensure no engineer or their family have to face life’s challenges without support.