January 23, 2015, by Jill Bennett
January food for thought
Nearing the end of January you are probably already wondering where the time disappeared to. Was it really a month ago that you were saying a cheery Merry Christmas to your friends and colleagues as you made a mad dash to the door to begin your Christmas break?
What happened after the festivities, did you make those New Year resolutions to be fitter and healthier, to save money, to hand in all your work way before the deadline? Like most of us you probably did, and like many of us you may already be slipping back into those old ways. Why do you think this is? Maybe those resolutions just aren’t exciting or appealing enough, maybe you should be looking outwards rather than inwards.
We all know that Christmas is the time for giving and good will, but it doesn’t have to end when the decorations come down. Look around you and consider where and how your skills and energies could be put to good use. Numerous organisations need volunteers, not just for helping out in the coffee bar or shaking collecting tins (although these are indeed admirable ways to spend your time) but to offer their specific skills. It could be helping an organisation with marketing, translation, social media, garden planning, homework clubs, the list is endless. The Nottingham Skillsbank is the perfect place to look for these opportunities and to register your skills so people can find you.
If you are a student at the University of Nottingham there are opportunities to use your academic related skills, eg research, writing, business planning etc, in a voluntary role through the Community Partnerships Undergraduate Community Internship Programme (UCIP). This programme aims to share the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm of bright, motivated students with local organisations who in return offer a valuable insight into working in the voluntary sector. Students develop skills to enhance their employability and the organisations get a talented student to bring in new ideas and fresh eyes to a piece of work they may not have the time or resources to carry out themselves.
University of Nottingham students interested in one-off volunteering or working with a group of other students to create their own project should make their first point of call the Student Volunteer Centre who will be only too pleased to help you find what’s right for you or guide you in setting something up.
Probably the biggest collection of volunteering opportunities open to everyone exists on the Do-It website, where you can submit your own preferences to search the one million plus vacancies. This extensive range covers everything from dog walking, befriending asylum seekers, charity race stewards, museum photographers, there really is no limit to volunteering.
Still not convinced? Perhaps something more personal and low key is called for. What about the elderly gentleman who lives alone a few doors down from you, would he like some company for an hour a week? A cup of tea and a chat could make the world of difference to him. Or maybe just offer to put his dustbins out for him and pick up a few bits for him on your own shopping trips. It really is that easy to make a difference.
I think you would be more likely to persevere with those resolutions which embrace helping others. Not only will you have those people to consider but you really will feel that you are achieving something special and worthwhile. It may be three weeks into January but it’s not too late to add a new resolution to your list, one that will have a much wider impact than on you alone, and I guarantee that you will get as much out of it as the people you are supporting.