How can I volunteer?

Every day there are thousands of people making a difference in all sorts of ways, but they don’t get paid. They are benefiting their communities and also themselves. They are volunteers!

Do you want to help the world or your community? Do you want to build your own skills, make new friends, and learn? Do you love what you do? Do you want to share your gifts with others or give something back? Examining these sorts of questions can help you to choose the right direction for your volunteer work.

No-one will ask you to sign a contract or commit yourself to work or time that doesn’t suit you and you are free to stop volunteering if you wish to.

On the other hand organisations will be very grateful for whatever help you are able to give. It is your community and we all contribute to it in whichever way we want.

There are many ways to find information about volunteering and getting involved. Many people will just contact local branches of organisations and ask if they can help. However, other people may be unsure what they want to do and if you are new to the area you probably don’t know all the local organisations that use volunteers.

If you have access to the Internet then visit the Volunteer Centre Aberdeenshire (VCA) website www.vcaberdeenshire.org.uk which will also link you to the national database of volunteer opportunities at the Volunteer Scotland website.

On the Volunteer Scotland website you can specify the kind of volunteer work you want to do and where you want to do it.

The database will show you what is available and how to make contacts. The site will give you a list of all the opportunities that might interest you and details of who to contact to find out more. 

Alternatively, if you know the name of an organisation you would like to volunteer with, do an internet search for their website, most of them will have pages telling you about how you can get involved as a volunteer.

Visit the VCA or meet one of the Volunteering Development Officers across the county. They have details of hundreds of organisations and thousands of volunteer positions and details are constantly updated so can offer accurate information to potential volunteers.

The VCA can put you in contact with the right person and can often provide background information on the organisation and the kind of work you might do. This can save you time and you will be more sure that the volunteering opportunity is the right one.

If you are completely new to volunteering and have no idea what you would like to do then contact VCA and one of the Volunteering Development Officers will be able to help. They will ask you some questions about your aims, interests and skills and then give you a list of potentially suitable opportunities in your area. Then it’s over to you to choose!

Look out for posters and notices in libraries and community centres. Many organisations put up notices to advertise their volunteering vacancies especially for new projects or events. There are many local festivals, concerts, shows and events which rely on volunteers with a wide range of skills.

Contacting Organisations

So you’ve found the organisation or group you would like to volunteer with, now its time to contact them. If you like, the VCA can make enquiries on your behalf; you just need to ask. Firstly, if enquiring about a specific opportunity e.g. volunteer driver, check whether the opportunity is still available. You might also want to check if there are new opportunities with the organisation that haven’t yet been advertised. After that, arranging an informal meeting is likely to be the next step. This will be your chance to find out whether this really is the right opportunity for you, and for organisation to make sure you are right for them.

An organisation might want to discuss why you are interested in volunteering, what sort of voluntary work you would like to do, what skills you currently have and those you’d like to learn, how much time you have to offer, when and for how long, their aims and objectives as an organisation, whether confidentiality is an issue, whether references or a “disclosure” are needed.

For further information, advice or even just a chat with one of the Volunteer Development Officer than contact the Volunteer Centre Aberdeenshire.