Volunteering: So much more than unpaid work

Andy Barrow, Team London Ambassador at a youth networking event.

National Volunteers’ Week has been gaining in popularity earlier this month.

People have really embraced the #volunteersweek hashtag on social media, as thousands of people have spoken about either what they get out of giving up their time, or how volunteers enrich people’s lives and organisations all over the world.

I’m often asked to speak about the power of volunteering, especially to young people. In fact, one of my best gigs to date was on this very subject!

I truly believe volunteering enriches everyone’s lives. As I said in the video above, volunteers played a huge part in helping me gain back my independence after my accident.

That’s something I never thought I’d get back as a 17-year-old boy laying in that hospital bed. Hopefully those who helped me got a lot out of enriching my life too.

My dad travelled the world with me during the majority of my wheelchair rugby playing career – as a volunteer. He made some fantastic friends, learnt and used his mechanical skills and had a lot of fun along the way.

I’m off to Glastonbury Festival tomorrow. I’ll be writing more about this when I get back, but that place is also enriched by an army of volunteers.

Andy Barrow, Team London Ambassador at a youth networking event.

Team London, Youth Networking Event. Run to Do Good. City Hall and Potters Field.

Whether they’re working for worthy causes such as Oxfam, getting up at 6am to clear the ground of the previous day’s litter or helping those with mobility needs in the disabled campsite, where I’ll be staying, I can guarantee they’ll leave the site with memories they will cherish forever.

Volunteering doesn’t have to be seen as “doing work for free”. Many do start careers by carrying out unpaid work and I’m a strong believer that people shouldn’t be taken advantage of in that respect.

But giving up a few hours a week to learn new skills and make new friends can really enrich other people’s lives as well as their own.

My partnership with Team London and We Day aims to help young people in the capital. They discover the virtues of helping good causes by identifying their strengths and leadership skills, before utilising them within a cause they feel strongly about.

But it’s never too late to get started, so why not have a look at some opportunities in your area? I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

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