June 13, 2016, by Words on Words

The Benefits of One-Off Volunteering

This blog post was written by second year English student, Victoria Lorriman from the School of English.

Most of us have now finished exams, and after being constantly engaged in hours of revision and writing a long summer break seems to be exactly what we need. However, the transition from intense involvement in studies to suddenly sitting back into an un-timetabled routine might leave you feeling slightly lethargic, longing for something to do. Although it is crucial to take some time out to relax, immersing yourself in a new challenge, even for just one day, will prove refreshing and re-energizing, whilst creating a sense of fulfillment and purpose. In this blog post, I hope to inspire those of you who are looking for something stimulating to do during the holidays to try your hand at one-off volunteering – a challenge that comes hand-in-hand with self-improvement and a CV boost.

On 20th May 2016, I volunteered as a Team Leader during ‘Give and Gain Day’ at Brocklewood Primary School. The role involved leading a group of ten Year 5/6 children from four different schools situated around the Bulwell area through a series of outdoor and team building activities, such as obstacle courses, shelter building, and code cracking. The pupils had never met before, so I was responsible for encouraging them to build relationships with new people, work together effectively, and surpass expectations of their own intellectual capacities whilst undertaking the challenges. It was extremely rewarding leading the group throughout the day, witnessing their bonds and collective capabilities strengthen to assist them in solving problems.

A benefit of one-off voluntary work is that it does not involve any long term commitments, but does allow you to develop skills that are impressive to future employers. For instance, my position as Team Leader helped me to develop a range of skills and responsibilities, including ensuring that health and safety regulations were adhered to at all times; playing an active part in the team by delegating opportunities for quieter group members to speak up so that the pupils could collectively formulate a strategy to complete a challenge; creating and leading ice-breaking games to help the children get to know one another; and using problem-solving abilities when finding ways to engage children who did not initially want to get involved in the activities. In short, one-off volunteering enables the development of a strong set of transferable skills that can be adapted depending on the diverse job positions you may decide to apply for.

It is also the opportunities for personal development that any form of volunteering grants that makes it so worthwhile. The children at ‘Give and Gain Day’ have grown up in a disadvantaged area, and many do not have positive role models at home. It is the interaction with motivated, encouraging, enthusiastic volunteers that helps them to realise that they can succeed in intellectual, emotional, and physical challenges, and outshine their own perceptions of their abilities, no matter their background. Voluntary work in this instance, even if it is only a one off, helps to inspire children to become successful, and I believe that the volunteer’s action as a positive role model is what gives the role such value and purpose.

In my experience, it is this sense of purposefulness that provides the drive for pursuing or even exceeding aspirations, be they career or personally orientated. By volunteering on a one-off basis, I not only developed my transferable skills to enhance my employability, but also became more determined to work voluntarily with children in the future. Why not volunteer too and see what transferable skills you can develop or what interests might be sparked?


Photo: Pixabay (featured image cropped) / CC0 Public Domain

Feeling inspired? There are many websites that you can use to find one-off volunteering experiences in and around Nottingham. Here are just a few:

  • Keep an eye out on the University of Nottingham’s one-off volunteering page for students.
  • Sign up as a volunteer with Maggie’s Centre. They do have ongoing voluntary roles, but mostly they need extra pairs of hands at events they run (races, Christmas fairs, fundraisers, races etc.). Once you’re on their list, they will e-mail out opportunities as and when they come up, and if you can join in that’s great, but if not, no problem.
  • Sign up with the Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service. They are a similar service to the University of Nottingham’s one-off volunteering page, but they find volunteering opportunities for everyone, not just students. Their office is situated in town near the Victoria Centre, where their co-ordinators are happy to let you know about how they work.
  • Take part in Clicksilver, a project that runs twice a year on campus. It involves student volunteers working one-on-one with older people to teach them basic computer and iPad skills. It isn’t one-off volunteering, but it is a short-term voluntary role, as it only lasts for 6 weeks.

Victoria Lorriman

Posted in Student Words