Brought to you by Volunteer News
There’s no doubt that Macmillan benefits enormously from the valuable time and energy that volunteers provide. But what do volunteers get back in return?
When Alastair from Hertfordshire (pictured) plucked up the courage to step out of his comfort zone as a volunteer, he discovered that the personal skills he gained were surprising, invaluable and life-changing. Here he recounts his journey for Volunteer News.
'Volunteering was something that I’d wanted to try for a while but, to be honest, I wasn’t sure that I had the confidence. Eventually I took the plunge and signed up to volunteer with my local Macmillan Action Team.
'It’s a really flexible way to volunteer as team members are emailed about ad hoc volunteering opportunities, and then they can choose the ones they want to get involved in. I felt that putting myself in situations that I wasn’t used to would be good for me.
'My first Action Team event involved volunteering at the Macmillan stand at the BBC Good Food show, encouraging people to leave Macmillan a gift in their will. On the morning of the event I was anxious and terrified about talking to the general public as I hadn’t really done that before. But once I got there, a Macmillan staff member put me at ease, and within five minutes I thought, I’m actually quite good at this!
'After that, I wanted to do more volunteering, so I continued to push myself to try new things. For example, I’ve given talks to other volunteers – something I would have found intimidating before I became a volunteer. It’s been a cumulative thing - I’ve become more positive with every event I’ve been involved in, and my confidence has built up bit by bit.
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'I’ve benefited from volunteering in so many ways. I’ve become more comfortable and confident around people and volunteering has made me feel that I can talk to anyone. It’s also broadened my life experience as I’ve met fascinating people from a diverse range of backgrounds, ethnicities and ages. Some of the volunteers I meet are cancer survivors, and when I hear what they’ve gone through and why they’re volunteering, I find it incredible. I think that if they can get through a round of chemotherapy then I should be able to stand up in front of people and talk at an event. There’s no excuse not to.
'What’s more, as a volunteer you have to throw yourself into a variety of tasks and you learn lots of handy little things along the way. For example, I now know how to manage a cloakroom and use a credit card machine - all sorts of things! I think every volunteer should try new opportunities from time to time. The support Macmillan offers is brilliant, so you’re bound to gain in confidence and get so much out of it.
'Volunteering for Macmillan made me realise that I really wanted to work for a charity. There was a real lightbulb moment when I thought, I should be doing this with my life! The great news is that, thanks to the experience I’ve gained, I’ve just been offered a job in corporate fundraising for a charity that organises special days for seriously ill people. Volunteering with Macmillan has helped me to find my calling in life.'
Inspired by Alastair? If you’d like to mix things up with your volunteering, sign up for a different kind of opportunity today on the Volunteering Village. Who knows where it will lead you.
Read Imogen's blog about her experience as a Macmillan support line volunteer. She highlights the benefits of talking about cancer and looks at some of the different ways people can start talking.
If you've just joined up and aren't sure where to start, this is the group for you. Tell us a bit about what brings you here, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Someone will be on hand to welcome you and point you in the right direction
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