Becoming a volunteer can be personally rewarding. By meeting with like-minded people, it's a great way to make new friends, plus it can help you give something back to your community.
Even though you'll be giving your time to help others, you'll also increase your own confidence while gaining a sense of satisfaction and achievement.
It's also a valuable way of gaining work experience, as volunteering can help you gain new skills as well as increase your future job prospects.
There are many ways to volunteer depending on how much time you can spare. Full-time, part-time and evening volunteering are offered by various organisations:
If you're over 50 and like the idea of researching issues that affect the lives of older people, you might like to join the Older People's Research Group. This group of skilled social researchers are trained by Anglia Ruskin University to carry out worthwhile research and audits for all kinds of public sector organisations and charities. And they're always open to welcoming new volunteers. So for more information, call 01277 632390, or email email@example.com.
Volunteer Essex connects volunteers with charities looking for help. They host events which provide information about volunteering, and have a number of volunteer centres across Essex.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service recruit volunteers for a variety of different roles. You can volunteer for as much or as little time as you are willing to give.
Become a Smart Life Volunteer for Age UK. The Smart Life programme is based at GP surgeries, and provides support to vulnerable people who need help with improving their health and well-being.
The Essex Connects website provides a searchable online directory of voluntary and community sector services within Essex. You can also find out how to find support if you are part of a voluntary organisation.
Action for Family Carers run a variety of services for carers and their cared-for across Essex. Their mission is to make a positive difference to the lives of carers by providing valued, high quality support services in times of need. They are looking for volunteers with a variety of skills to help run these valuable services. Find out more on their Volunteers page, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accuro are a West Essex charity who provide services and support for children, young people, and adults with a disability. They have a range of opportunities for people to volunteer. Find out more by reading their Volunteering page, or contact Michelle Jephcott via email: email@example.com or by phone on 01279 433667.
Voluntary Action Epping Forest run a supported volunteering service for adults with learning disabilities in the Epping Forest district. They work with families, carers, and professionals to put the right support in place for the individual. Support is available with finding an opportunity to volunteer, during the placement, and by way of a support plan. The support plan takes into account the needs and aspirations of the volunteer. Find further information on their website.
Elbow Grease is a small co-operative based in Harlow which is run by a team of adults with learning disabilities. This team are supported to volunteer and provide services to other vulnerable people living in the community, as well as local charities. Common tasks include light housework, gardening, dog walking, or befriending.
They are very reliant on volunteers to support the team, as well as to run the business, and apply for funding opportunities to ensure Elbow Grease is sustainable in the future.
The co-operative is currently grant funded by Essex County Council, and would welcome any new volunteers or members with learning disabilities if they wish to commit to the company. "We give to members of our local community to get something back ourselves.' Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact the Elderly are a national charity who hold free, monthly tea parties on a Sunday afternoon for people aged 75 years and over. The groups are specifically designed to help the aged with few friends or family living nearby. Each group offers tea, cake, sandwiches and chat in volunteer hosts' homes.
If you'd like to get involved, they have a number of ways you can volunteer; from driving elderly guests, or hosting a tea party, to co-ordinating a group - and more besides. So for more information, call them on 0800 716543, or visit their become a volunteer page on their website.
Your local volunteer centre
There are hundreds of volunteering opportunities in your district. Most districts have a dedicated volunteer centre, so that's the place to go to discover the majority of local volunteer opportunities.
Your volunteer centre will also support you in finding the kind of volunteer work that appeals to you. They can even help you to plan ahead by building your skills through volunteer work and training, and support you in a search for permanent paid work.
And if you're an organisation who would like to involve volunteers in your work, the volunteer centre will put you in touch with appropriate people.
Contact your local volunteer centre for more information:
Volunteer Centre Harlow
Basildon, Billericay Brentwood and Wickford
Basildon, Billericay & Wickford CVS
Volunteer Centre Tendring
Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services and Volunteer Centre
Chelmsford Volunteering Centre
Rochford and Rayleigh
Rayleigh, Rochford and District Association for Voluntary Service
Maldon and District CVS
Braintree District Voluntary Support Agency