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Whilst having skills or experience is useful, the key thing is to have an interest and enthusiasm for becoming involved in your community! Organisations generally understand the needs of volunteers and nowadays, they are very good at providing opportunities that are worthwhile and rewarding.
If you have a disability, just to the organisation - most will be able to make necessary adaptations or offer other relevant opportunities.
There are a variety of opportunities open all year round but if there is something specific that you wan to do, come and talk to us and we will do our best to source something out for you. Most organisations are flexible and can offer a wide-variety of roles, so do not be shy to ask!
Most organisations will want to meet a volunteer before asking them to start work but this will usually be for an informal chat rather than a formal interview. Some might ask for references from you but this will be explained before you start. If you are volunteering as part of a group, it is more likely that the organisation will arrange matters with the group leader only.
Firstly, a sense of achievement, seeing something happen in the community because of you. There are hundreds of organisations across the community that depend on volunteers to make their activity possible. Secondly, it is a great way to meet people and make new friends. Thirdly, you can use the skills you already possess or learn new ones. Sometimes it’s also a great way to do something that complements your studies but it can also be a way to do something totally different to your normal day to day routine.
This will vary with the role you take on but organisations are aware that due to your academic timetable they will need to be flexible. You can find one-off opportunities or opportunities that require a longer-term committment but however much time you decide to volunteer, you can be sure that it will be greatly appreciated!
Many companies recognise the value of work experience and skills gained in a volunteer role and such activities will help you to energise your C.V and stand-out from other candidates who might only have academic qualifications. In some areas of work, a record of volunteering is often a very useful step towards paid employment - Conservation work, arts, entertainment, outdoor pursuits and work for charitable organisations are good examples of when this is often true!.
If you are giving your time and expertise free, you should not have to make a financial commitment. We encourage organisations to cover their volunteers’ out of pocket expenses such as travel. The organisation should also provide tools, protective clothing and the like if needed. Remember to double-check this with your organisation before you commence volunteering for them, just in case.
If volunteers are going to work with children or vulnerable adults the organisation might ask you to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) application. The information you give will be treated as confidential. Even if you have a criminal record it might not necessarily prevent you being a volunteer. Volunteering is about including not excluding people.
If you’d like to give volunteering a go, we run a variety of individual project days where we organise free transport from each campus and take you out somewhere to volunteer for the day. These have included volunteering at Wetheriggs Animal Sanctuary, out on the fells with the National Trust, Salt Ayre Activities day for children with disabilities and many more.
If you would like to create your own volunteering project we can give you advice and support on setting this up and can offer funding towards travel and resources. Previous projects have included the Eco Schools Project, an ICT project for local residents and a community Arts project where students interested in art invited local people on to campus to teach them about drawing, painting and photography. Click here for a one page guide to running your own project.
Once you are registered as a volunteer through our website, you will be able to apply to volunteer at different organisations. Lots of places will offer travel expenses however please read through the information to double check what expenses are covered as some charities are unable to to do this.
If you have something specific in mind or you like the sound of an opportunity and it's not in your area please email SUvolunteering@cumbria.ac.uk with the details and we will look for an alternative/bespoke volunteering opportunity for you.
After you have registered and created your profile, Suvolunteering will send you an email with all the info you need, including regular bulletins and an hours sheet to record all the time you spend volunteering whilst you’re a student. These hours all count towards your UCSU Volunteering Certificate, signed by the Vice Chancellor of the University and Community and Partnership Officer.
You may want to consider the University's Career Ahead Award - all your volunteering counts towards the award and there's loads of extra benefits to you and your career development.