5 reasons why I volunteer (and you may want to start too) + tips on how to get involved
Monday 8th to Sunday 14th marks National Student Volunteering Week. This is a week long celebration of the fantastic efforts that student volunteers do. Anyone can volunteer, and there are lots of easy ways to give your time to help others. However, with our seemingly busy lives, we may find it hard to commit time and energy to yet another task, especially during the ongoing pandemic. Now more than ever, local communities are more vulnerable and could benefit from extra support. Whether serving as an ear to listen on an online helpline, shopping for groceries, mentoring students, or walking your neighbours’ dogs, there are multiple ways to get involved. Not only will you be helping a good cause, you may also find that you benefit from volunteering yourself!
You will be a part of something bigger than you
Volunteering gives a sense of purpose. When committing your time and energy to others, you can make a difference in their lives. It also gives you a chance to employ your skills in a meaningful way. Through my education journey, I volunteered as a tutor for students, helping them with subjects such as English, Mathematics and Science. If you want to find a similar opportunity online, have a look at the Access Project and other mentoring schemes.
You can connect with your community
Getting involved in your local community will allow you to learn more about the issues people around you are facing. While helping others you can expand your network and create deep relationships with people from all backgrounds. Nothing bonds as much as a common cause so, when volunteering you have a chance to create long-lasting friendships. Besides helping others, engaging in community activities can have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing, which is a side effect we all need now. Knowing that there are people who care about you can be of great help when you feel down and uncertain.
It is a powerful learning experience
Volunteering is a wonderful learning opportunity, and unlike paid work, it usually does not require extensive prior experience and is rather based on your interests and passions. However, you can acquire skills that will later come in handy at work. While volunteering with charities in my area I learned time management and had a chance to work in a diverse, international group. I also learned how to fundraise, and budget when organising community events. Some tangible skills I gained include basic graphic design and social media management.
It gets you out of your comfort zone
Starting something new is never easy, and at the beginning, you may feel anxious and self-conscious about the different environment. By interacting with others you learn a lot about yourself and the world. After some time, volunteering can open your mind, and counteract some preconceptions you may have had before. It teaches you to be humble and accept your limitations, but also to stay resilient and speak up for the causes you are passionate about.
It pays back in ways you would not expect
We volunteer because it makes a difference. But there are several benefits to volunteering – some tangible and some intangible, emotional and physical, social and professional. Especially important are the friendships you form, frequently extending far beyond your time as a volunteer. When we volunteer we become more connected to others, and less absorbed with the stress of daily life. It can also improve your physical strength, and motivate you to get outside more. It may also lead to better job prospects, as while volunteering you gain a lot of transferable skills, and network.
If you want to learn more about volunteering while at LSE check out the Volunteering Week page. Student Volunteering Week takes place from the 8th until the 14th of February and is run by the Volunteer Centre at LSE. Make sure to have a look at their homepage to learn how to get involved.
Many of the members of the LSESU Student Societies engage in voluntary and charity activities. LSE SU RAG (Raising and Giving) runs many fun activities and makes excellent fundraising efforts.
You can also visit Volunteering Matters to learn more about volunteering. If you are living in London, here is the website from Major of London showcasing pan-London opportunities. You may want to check the websites of your local council to see what help they may need.
This blog was written by Dani Gruszka. Dani is a Masters student in the Economic History department. She has previously volunteered as a tutor and mentor for both younger children and incoming university students. She has also been involved in organising community events, food donations and soup kitchens. For 3 years she helped international students who studied abroad at her university and was a part of multiple student organisations that have their own volunteering programmes, including AIESEC and ESN (Erasmus Student Network). She is always on the look out for ways in which she can give back to the community!
As well as being a student and volunteer, Dani works as an Advice Assistant in the LSESU Students' Union Advice Service.
The LSESU Advice Team
Impartial. Supportive. Confidential.
The LSESU Advice Team is based on the 3rd floor of the Saw Swee Hock Building and we provide free, independent and confidential advice to all LSE students on academic and housing matters. We also administer the Hardship Fund, the Childcare Fund and the Graduation Gown Support Fund (GGSF).
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation we will not be on campus for Lent Term. However, we are still open and can instead be accessed by emailing email@example.com. You can also book a telephone or Zoom appointment with an adviser through Student Hub.