Altruism · Commitment · Compassion · Courage · Generosity · Gratitude · Kindness · Learn · Optimism · Patience · Resourcefulness · Responsibility · Spring · Volunteer

Challenge 7 – to become a Volunteer, be it a small gesture of goodwill or regular commitment.

Your challenge this week: to volunteer your time for a good cause…

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”
~Oscar Wilde

This challenge encourages the following values:
Kindness, Courage, Responsibility, Gratitude, Generosity, Resourcefulness, Compassion, Optimism, Patience, Commitment.

What you need to complete your challenge this week:

  • To think about WHO you would like to help. A friend or maybe a charitable organisation, a community project or local group or club?
  • To think about WHAT sort of volunteer work you would like to do. What skills do you have? What interests do you have? What are you good at?
  • To think about how much TIME you can give. Even just half an hour counts if you are offering help towards a good cause, the point here is to is to give your time freely.

If all else fails… offer to babysit so your friends can have a date night together, do some shopping for an elderly neighbour, ask your children to think of a job at home that they could do for you. It doesn’t matter how small the gesture may seem to you, to the other person it could be a huge help and like I said above the point is to offer your time and to give it freely.

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Food for thought for the grown-ups:

I know what you’re thinking, this looks like a big challenge this week, doesn’t it?  Please don’t feel overwhelmed by expectation (mine or yours), I actually don’t have any expectations other than you giving a little time, for a good cause.  That voice in your head saying ‘I don’t think I can do this one’ and ‘I really don’t have time for this’ is almost tangible but please if you can, consider doing this challenge, it really is very rewarding for all involved. Just keep reading, please….

IMAG2309 (2)Last year I didn’t have my children for the weekend when this challenge was pulled out of the pot during our usual family supper night, so I did this one with my mum – still a family challenge right?! We volunteered to man a water station for our City’s annual 10 Mile run. As a family of runners, it seemed apt to help our fellow athletes out and we had contacts so we used them and volunteered our services.  It was a very entertaining and rather wet endeavour but we met some really lovely people – we learnt quickly that handing water to a fast moving runner is an art form in itself – we got very wet! The gratitude from the athletes was heartwarming, it was just a real shame it was over so quickly.  It is also a shame that I only have one photo and that was my mum drinking a flask of tea and eating biscuits in the car before we braved the rain to set up! She’ll have kittens that I’ve put it on here but you know what mum, you are my hero and an inspiration to others, so I hope you forgive me x

All the other photos accompanying this blog are from a few years ago when I volunteered for a week on Skomer Island for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. I considered it a holiday but it was a genuine volunteer placement along with 5 others, working every day maintaining visitor accessible areas on the island, changing the beds in the visitor accommodation and maintaining a compost toilet! But, the real joy was monitoring the wildlife, Manx Shearwater, Puffins, butterflies and porpoise to name a few. It was a life changing experience, so much so I repeated it a few years later. Obviously, it was a huge commitment of time and energy but I learnt so much, I made lifelong friends and spent a blissful week on an island… does it get any better than that!


So why do this challenge? Why give up your time to pick up litter after a village fete or clear an overgrown footpath, or count puffins on an island, or help at the local dog re-homing centre or homeless shelter or your local school, special needs group or scout troop? There are a huge number of reasons to volunteer… check this out! It can boost your career, you can learn new skills, you interact with new and passionate people, you see new places, it’s insightful, it is good for your mental health, you see for yourself that you are making a difference, you can even take a small part in making global change for good, you get the opportunity to give back to a cause that means something to you. Deep breath, I haven’t finished yet! You can change people’s lives and make meaningful connections, you can become a member of a specialist or skilled community, you gain perspective, you can explore different environments, ideas, experiences and people that gently and safely push you beyond your comfort zone, you can discover talents you didn’t know you had, it’s fun, it boosts your confidence, the list is endless and there is no reason to think that children have any less to give or gain by volunteering either – just think about that for a moment – you are modelling kindness and generosity!

228922_10150736309115647_4314960_nFor inspiration, either contact your local volunteer Centre or you may have a specific charitable organisation in mind that you could contact directly. If you aren’t sure here are a few websites that could help you Timebank, NCVOVolunteering Matters.

So it’s not just about what you can give but also about what you believe you can gain. Believe me I am a huge advocate of self-care, (despite my ongoing battle with rarely finding time for it) and I consider it of huge importance that we look after ourselves and pay close attention to what our minds and bodies need so why not satisfy some of these needs by putting ourselves out there in a voluntary capacity…?

And for the children:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”  ~The Lorax

There are many many voluntary ideas out there for children to take part in and they are so worthwhile in terms of what children can gain and learn about giving their time for a worthy cause. The BBC produced a fantastic article about how families can volunteer together, click here to read it.

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Children cultivate caring and compassionate values by watching you giving up your time to volunteer and by volunteering themselves.  They also get the added bonus of spending quality time with you, something they crave far more than we often realise.  For teenagers, volunteering offers independence, respect and value. By working alongside your children and/or teenagers in a positive environment with positive role models the lessons being learnt will become lifelong memories and lay foundations for their future.

Work together with young children, make observations together that you can discuss later on. For children around 10 to 15 look for volunteering opportunities which can give your child more of a sense of responsibility and freedom whilst still being supervised by yourself or a specialist leader. For any child over 15 volunteering is crucial in teaching about altruism and opening their eyes to the world. Check vinspired out, it’s an amazing site for older teen volunteers.

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So go for it, find something that appeals to you and your family, something that suits you, it’s much easier than you might think. Good luck and THANK YOU for reading this initially daunting challenge idea to the end.  Please do try to give it a go…

“How great would the world be if, just for a moment, we all just stepped out of our own lives and into another’s for the sole purpose of doing good” ~Emily Mickleburgh (if I did quotes this would be one of them!)

PLEASE NOTE: some voluntary positions, where you may come into contact with vulnerable people, children, for example, may require certain Disclosure Barring Service checks to be carried out or you may need to meet a certain requirement of skill or fitness or suchlike. This is all perfectly normal – don’t let it put you off!