You never know where volunteering can take you! – Natalie’s Story

Some people think of volunteering and they immediately think of unpaid work and it puts them off. Yet they don’t realise how rewarding it is to volunteer. Let alone how many new skills you learn and old ones you get to utilise for the sake of  helping others and really giving back to the community.

That’s why I volunteered. I had a little of bit of time to spare and was bored of doing nothing with the time I had. I wanted to do something useful, learn new skills and give something back. At the time I wasn’t working and was not ready to go back to work. I had a bout of illness which meant I couldn’t go back to work straight away.

I felt quite frustrated and eager to do something for someone else instead of just feeling sorry for myself. But I really wanted to learn some new skills. Being a writer I knew I wanted to use my writing as well.

I contacted Age concern and decided to find out what volunteer opportunities they had. I told them about my writing and they asked me if I could do some volunteering with them to help them write their monthly newsletter. This really excited me.

I used desktop publisher and it was mainly a lot of editing and a bit of writing.  I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the first time I was using desk top publisher but with help I quickly got the grasp of it. I was importing pictures into the newsletter layout also and making small decisions with the team about how the newsletter should look.

After completing the newsletter another voluntary position arose within age concern. This was the role of a receptionist. I had always wanted to work as a receptionist but had no skills in reception and I had no idea what it felt like to do a reception job and whether I would enjoy it. This was my opportunity to find out. The receptionist opportunity was offered to me so I took it straight away. It came with full training.

I learnt how to answer the phone, take messages and record them in the message and appointment book. I learnt how to direct phone call messages to different departments and meet and greet people at the reception desk. I thoroughly enjoyed this position and it gave me real insight into what it felt like to work as a receptionist in a receptionist role.

That is one great thing about volunteer work, if you are unsure of a paid employment role you would like to pursue, you can always try out voluntary work in that same role to gain some experience, learn some new skills and at the same time give something back by supporting an organization.

Age concern is a charity so not only was I gaining some real valuable employable skills that would look amazing on my CV,  I was also supporting a charity and giving up my own spare time to really help out and support and give something back to those who needed it.

Age concern is a charity that supports and offer services for senior citizens who are usually housebound due to old age. I had to answer many phone calls and queries from older people and their relatives who were taking care of them. It was never a dull day as there was always challenging queries and problem solving.

I also volunteered at my local hospital on hospital radio. I made a lot of new friends and learnt how to do radio presenting and producing. I learnt some invaluable skills. I had to visit sick patients on the hospital wards and record their song request to be played later on in the show.

After being in hospital myself once I knew what it felt like to be unwell and away from home and family and to feel lonely. I was doing something really rewarding by doing a show for patients in hospital and really cheering them up with the radio show since they were so poorly. If felt good to be able to help someone else who was in the position I had once been in.

I would recommend volunteering to anyone because it can be so exciting, varied and rewarding and there is something to suit anyone. I hope to now travel to Morocco or Kenya to volunteer with young children in nurseries and schools. Volunteering can take you to so many places. I hope my volunteer experience has helped you want to volunteer too.

Natalie Reuben