Getting back to work

Volunteering to gain skills and experience

Volunteering can be a great way to develop your skills and experience to help you get back into paid employment.

There are all sorts of opportunities to volunteer including: working in the community doing practical things for people needing help; protecting the environment; campaigning for a charity; taking up a voluntary role such as being a member of your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or school governor. 

During the pandemic, lots of volunteers were needed to provide much needed support for vulnerable people and you can often find requests on social media such as local Facebook groups.

Reasons to volunteer

A period spent volunteering not only allows you to contribute to your community or to a cause, it can also give you an opportunity to: 

  • try a different area of work to see whether it suits you
  • learn new skills and gain experience – this might be essential for certain jobs or careers you’re considering
  • boost your chances of finding paid work – you’ll have recent experience to put on your CV and to talk about in interviews
  • ask someone to be a referee for you when you apply for jobs
  • meet new people and perhaps build a network of contacts who may help you find paid work
  • develop your self-confidence
  • demonstrate to employers that you are proactive and productive

Getting started with volunteering

  • Think about what you want to get out of the experience.
  • What do you have to offer? You may have specialist knowledge and skills that are in demand but often all you need is plenty of enthusiasm and motivation.
  • Work out roughly how much time you have to give and how regularly.
  • The Do-It website allows you to search for an opportunity based on factors such as your location, areas of interest and time you have available. Alternatively, enquire at your local volunteer centre.
  • Enquire about opportunities to volunteer in your local community 
  • Don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions before you apply for an opportunity. 
  • If you’re concerned about taking the first step, remember that you’re likely to be made very welcome and the organisation you volunteer with will be very grateful for your time!

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