Volunteering: what does it mean to you?
When David Cameron was the UK Prime Minister (2010-2016), he encouraged us to be part of the Big Society.
While I agree that we should all help each other when we can, I do feel that things have gone a bit too far lately.
Related post: https://marieceline.co.uk/friends-in-need
What seems to have happened over the past decade is that instead of the Big Society giving the power to the people, as Dave suggested it would, we have perhaps become powerless.
There is great wealth and also great poverty in the UK, and it’s often those who have least who give most. A recent news report told of a primary school that had started its own food bank as too many children were coming to school hungry. During the interview with one of the teaching assistants it was disclosed that she was facing redundancy and expected to be needing to use the food bank herself. No doubt the gap left by her will be filled with a volunteer.
If that’s the case, which I’m sure it is in other places, it can only help these organisations for a while. Yet, as more people struggle to earn a wage, the economy suffers and more companies fail. Essential services are reduced or taken away altogether. Libraries, banks, post offices, pubs, clubs, parks etc all face closures. Then we are told that the community must join together to help keep these services going! I just don’t believe that real jobs should be done by volunteers.
I believe that volunteering should be done out of choice, not out of necessity. Some people may feel obligated to work for free just to help out, or perhaps, made to feel guilty if they don’t.
We shouldn’t be made to feel like we have to work for free because a company can’t pay to employ staff. We shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for not helping out, that without our support ‘xyz’ can’t continue. And, we should never be made to feel that our good nature and kindness is being taken for granted.
A volunteer is a very valuable asset. They often have life skills that others may not have. Just because they’re “free” they are not worthless. It’s wise to remember that they’re paying to work rather than working to get paid.
A lot of volunteers actually become volunteers because they want to give something back, either directly or indirectly. When someone has received help from someone else, they may want to return the love, or pay it forward. I think that is what should be at the heart of volunteering.
Volunteering should also be spontaneous and flexible (within reason). It shouldn’t require long application forms and lots of red tape. Why should I need to complete an application to crochet blankets for charity? That sounds more like THE BIG AUDIT instead of the Big Society 😂
I’m not trying to discourage anyone from becoming a volunteer, though. Doing something for someone else can be very rewarding, even if not in money terms. It can help your own wellbeing as much as the person (or animal 😺) you are helping.
In fact, this World is full of unsung heroes, and indeed every single person is capable of being one.
Even the poorest person has the ability to make another person smile.
You see, the greatest gift you can give another person is your time.
A moment of time once gone, is gone, and cannot be lived again. So while people might say that time is free, it is maybe the most valuable thing we have. Use it wisely and, be kind, always.
I’m always very grateful to my readers for visiting my blog ~ thank you!
Please do start a conversation in the comments below and tell me your views about volunteering. Do we rely too much on unpaid labour? Do you volunteer?