It’s a win-win for all involved – worthy causes and organisations get skills and labour at no extra cost and the volunteer benefits personally.
Volunteering can enhance your self-esteem and confidence, add experience and knowledge, expand your social network and improve your CV.
Becky Towns, our CSR & communications executive, volunteers with Carlisle Dementia Action Alliance, Carlisle Youth Zone and Cumbria CVS and emphasises the feel-good factor of knowing you are making a difference.
On a personal level, I’m very passionate about getting stuck in to give back and think nothing is more valuable than offering our time. So I’ll always champion volunteering and find it really rewarding.
Here at The Cumberland, we are very supportive of our colleagues in their volunteering efforts which includes giving everyone a day’s paid leave every year to volunteer with local good causes and charities.
Even if it’s just an hour a week or month, why not look for opportunities to get involved in supporting something you’re passionate about? said Becky. Your time could make a world of difference to someone, especially as the nature of volunteering continues to change, with a big shift to skill sharing. “Could you offer your skills to inspire, encourage and enable others in your communities?
“Find something you are passionate and care about” is Debbie Shearer’s advice to anyone considering volunteering.
Her own experience reflects that, having been inspired to help with CFM Cash For Kids when she found out how many children in the area were living in poverty.
After eight years, Debbie, who is head of First Line Risk here at the Cumberland, now sits on the local board as well as fundraising. “The work they were doing really resonated with me. I passionately believe that children should have the best start in life they can,” she said.
Another of our colleagues Glen Cavers, has done a multitude of roles at Langholm’s Centre Stage Community Theatre, including starring on stage, working behind the scenes, directing and even co-writing a panto. “I’m lucky to live in a community where there is lots going on and many groups to get involved in.
It’s part of the culture and so I naturally stepped in and have enjoyed it ever since,” said Glen, from our People and Culture Team, who is involved in two other theatres.
Colin Swan shows the extent of volunteering opportunities out there. The 56-year-old from Barrow volunteered at the town’s library for more than 10 years where he taught information technology. Since finishing his IT foundation degree at Furness College, he has been volunteering with Cumbria CVS for a year to expand his graphic design and multimedia skills.
He said: “Don’t be afraid of the challenge of making a difference for you and your community.”
Volunteering for Gill Hipwell, who works within our Operations Team here at The Cumberland, is a family affair – her parents ran Cubs and Scouts troops, her sister-in-law runs the Guides, her brother looks after the Scouts and Gill runs Cubs with her mum. She said: “I love seeing the young people develop their skills and confidence in a different environment than school.”
The best bits for me about volunteering are, being able to inspire young people and help them gain so many different qualifications and have experiences that you wouldn’t get in normal day to day life! And making some incredible lifelong friends along the way.
Cumbria Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) offer these tips: