6 July 2023

What can Volunteering do for you?

Exploring the many benefits of regular volunteering and helping others.

Often, discussions surrounding the benefits of volunteering centre on two areas: 

  1. What impact does it have on the person/community being aided?
  2. How can it help me (the volunteer)?

Volunteers naturally shy away from discussing the second point, and this is completely expected. The fear is that talking about the benefits volunteering has for us can make us seem shallow, as if we’re just there to tick some boxes for a CV and not because we really believe in the cause we’re investing time in. So, since it’s awkward to raise in person, I’ll discuss it here: what can volunteering do for me?

I’m a chemist, so schedule matters a lot to me and my mental health. I’m not the spontaneous type to say the least, always planning and spending countless evenings staring at my calendar or scribbling down day plans on an ever thinning post-it note pad. With a crammed weekly timetable, I’m finding volunteer tutoring for an hour a week oddly relaxing, giving me space to breathe in an otherwise academically claustrophobic environment. Having a solid, regular, and planned event every few days or so is important to students who often find themselves locked in their rooms with work more than they’d like. We’re constantly reminded by our respective welfare departments that giving yourself a short break and a bit of respite can do wonders for your outlook – this is certainly true – so why not do this whilst helping others too?

Of course, not every student finds themselves as busy as some. Despite this, the above applies to a similar extent. Introducing some structure, i.e., with some regular volunteering, can adjust your perspective on the value of the time that you have. The less likely you’re going to spend it wallowing in bed in the morning or doom-scrolling through Twitter, as I sometimes catch myself doing on the odd occasion. We can aid in tackling these bad habits through spending our time doing more fulfilling activities, volunteering being the prime example, of course.

Breaking bad habits is a tough thing to do. Something I’ve found throughout my time working both part time and in academia is that hard work is always rewarded in some form. The problem with this though is we develop misconceptions about when or where this reward should be presented, and importantly, what form it should take. With the rapid pace in development of technology, young people such as myself have grown up to live with the expectation of instantaneous gratification, meaning that when such gratification is not instantaneous in the case of effort and hard work, we’re left disappointed. A key stage in the un-learning of such habits is training ourselves to accept slow or delayed reward or gratification for our work. Volunteering in education is a brilliant way to do this, down to the fact that students won’t get better with one session but will with many. I’m sure my fellow volunteer tutors will agree that the gleeful email at the end of the term from your student will make all the hard work worth it.

– Submitted by our Ambassador Toby 👏 

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