National Student Volunteering Week is next week, 12th to 18th February, and this week the Volunteer Centre at Lancaster District CVS has been working with Lancaster & Morecambe College, and Cumbria University, to promote volunteering to any of their students who might be interested in helping their communities.
But Student Volunteering Week is a reminder that, actually, volunteering is for everyone. We all have a part to play and we all have something that we can share to help make other people’s live just that little bit better.
If you are a student, there’s a very good chance that you’re already a volunteer. Volunteering has long been recognised as being complimentary to studying, as well as paid work, as a way of broadening skills and interests and giving people – whatever age they might be – an opportunity to experience places and peoples they might otherwise never come across.
If you are a student but you don’t volunteer, you might feel that it isn’t for you, and sometimes it isn’t; not everyone has the time or space in their life to fit volunteering in. But often it is a lack of confidence, and knowledge of where to begin, that keeps people from volunteering. You are not alone! I have lost count of the number of times I have heard someone say something like “I’ve been meaning to do this for ages but didn’t know how”.
That’s where the Volunteer Centre can help, but it isn’t just us – almost any community group, charity, or not-for-profit organisation that you can think of will gladly welcome your enquiry about getting involved. And that goes for everyone, whether you are 18 or 118!
Supporting under 18s into volunteering can be more challenging, but never assume that just because you are younger, you won’t be able to volunteer. Just ask. At the absolute worst you’ll be presented with possibilities that aren’t really your thing, but conversations can sometimes open doors that even we didn’t realise were there.
To all the students out there helping in their communities, thank you. To all those not currently volunteering, we’re ready to support you should you change your mind! And if you’re not a student, it doesn’t matter, you can get involved in anything from administration to zoology (sort of, work with me here!) whenever you want. Just get in touch and see what we can do to help you.