International Volunteer Day

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead 

Volunteering is incredibly valuable to society. Many charities would not be able to run without volunteers and marking International Volunteers Day reminds us of the importance of giving, especially when it’s something as precious as your time. How many of us truly commit to things? 

We live in a fast-paced world where the grass is seen to be greener and often you want to see if a better offer comes along. We’re surrounded in a culture of consumerism that encourages us to think of ourselves, and apps and the internet are becoming the norm for meeting and communicating with people. 

Supporting charities have also gone a similar way, you post a picture on a social media for whichever campaign is trending, and there; you’ve done your bit for charity. But it takes much more to be a volunteer. To volunteer means stepping out of your comfort zone and committing to something long term. You have to be brave and resilient to volunteer because it might not turn out to be what you expect and there will be days when you struggle to go.

Why should anyone give up their free time to help others? Because often giving to others can actually mean giving to ourselves. Studies have also shown that giving can be good for you physically and mentally. Recently, a Thanksgiving article on gratitude cited a study that showed those who were asked to reflect on their giving gave more than those asked to think about receiving. Adam Grant, a professor and author of the article writes, “Gratitude is a temporary emotion. Giving is a lasting value.” 

I’ve been volunteering for a number of years for different organisations, I’ve chatted to patients in hospitals, I’ve organised salsa parties, and I’ve fed farm animals on a city farm. There are times when I’ve not enjoyed it, especially the volunteer roles that interrupted my weekend lie-ins but when I’m there I’m glad I’m a part of it. You can meet interesting people, you get to learn new things and at the end of the session you'll feel better than if you had spent that time watching TV at home.  

More information

Find a volunteering opportunity in Kent

Here are resources on teaching philanthropy in the classroom.

Christmas is a time of giving especially to those who need it more than us. There are so many ways you can give to others, whether it's a donation, a gift or just your time. Here are 5 ideas to get you started on ways you can Give to People in Kent this Christmas.

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