In our busy 21st century lives I have heard it said that above all things, even money, time is our most precious commodity. We never seem to have enough of it. We talk about ‘buying time’ and ‘saving time’ but can we really do either of these things? It seems to me that the key is about using our time well.
We all have demands on our time that have to come first, such as earning money and taking care of home, family and self. Then there might be care of extended family, perhaps elderly parents. What next? These days, especially in the city, we have more choices of how to spend our spare time than ever before – we may have any number of hobbies to pursue, exhibitions to see, friends to meet, travel, sport and exercise and more gentle activities such as reading and crafts.
Why should we spend time volunteering to visit an isolated person with all the other choices that we have? Perhaps it is because doing this will impact positively on another person who really needs it as well as ourselves. Sure, we can have a great outing to the latest exhibition or show in the city and feel good about this, but by spending our time visiting a housebound and isolated person there is also a positive impact on someone else who has a lot less social contact and choices than we do. So there are two people who are happy at the end of the day and by proactively planning each week perhaps we can even ‘make a little more time’ to fit in all those other things we want to do.
How can you make the very best of your time for your own sake as well as for the benefit of another?
As December approaches we are constantly reminded that the ‘Season of Goodwill’ is nearly upon us. Advertisers and retailers let us know, in a myriad of different ways, the items that they have for sale and we are frequently asked to consider what gifts we might give to whom. It is very much ‘the season for giving’.
Also, at this time everyone seems to be extra busy buying cards and gifts, attending festivities and enjoying themselves and time is more stretched than ever. As many people become busier and busier, however, the loneliness of older and isolated housebound people can be felt even more acutely. They probably don’t have as many presents to buy, parties to attend, or people to have a seasonal catch up with. People whom they do see may have less time for them.
Surely then, this is the perfect time of year to make the most precious gift of all – committing to spending time with someone who needs it. By going to someone’s house and spending an hour and a half to two hours with them every week, you are really valuing them and making a positive difference to their life. It doesn’t cost anything monetary but becoming a volunteer befriender is to give one of the greatest gifts – the gift of time to someone who needs it. Is this something that you would like to do?
The festive season and its gifts are soon past and forgotten but being a regular Volunteer Befriender continues throughout the year.
Volunteer Link are recruiting volunteers and have a Volunteers Induction training day in January. If you would like to give the gift of your time to someone in need contact Bridget at Volunteer Link on firstname.lastname@example.org
I am often asked what kind of person makes a good volunteer for Volunteer Link and that’s an interesting question. The qualities and attributes that spring to mind are – a good listener, someone who is non-judgmental and empathic and has the time for the regular commitment of befriending volunteering. Certainly no formal qualifications are required. We do a volunteer induction training which equips new volunteers to undertake their role.
What else? Upon reflection I think it’s hard to answer this because we actually want a variety of people as volunteers, a diverse group, with different ethnicities, of different ages and social classes with various hobbies, interests and qualities. This is because our client group are a diverse group themselves. Where possible we like to match volunteers with clients whom they have things in common with and we can only do this if we have a diverse group of volunteers to start with, rather than volunteers who are all similar to each other. Variety is the spice of life after all.
Ealing is a diverse borough, home to people from a wide range of ethnicities, age groups, social classes etc. and of course people have all sorts of different personalities and passions.
So in answer to the question – what kind of person makes a good volunteer? – I believe the answer is that as long as someone has the qualities of being a good listener, nonjudgmental, empathic and can make the time for volunteering – almost anyone. Do you fit these criteria and would you like to volunteer? We are recruiting for our new volunteer Induction training to be held on 17th October so would love to hear from you. Email Bridget at email@example.com or ring on 020-8434-3635.
Holidays, sunny weather, quality time spent with family and friends, barbecues and picnics, days that seem to go on forever – this is the stuff that Summer is made of and some of the things that we love about this time of year. It can be a great opportunity to perhaps take things a bit more easy, recharge our batteries and take a holiday. Holidays can be a time to dream and plan for the future, to think through our priorities and re-establish what’s important to us, what our values are and how we, consequently, spend our time.
We have more choices of how to utilise our spare time than ever before, yet, when we think hard about it, most of us still feel it’s important to dedicate some time and energy to helping others, to ‘give back’ and support those in society who are less fortunate than ourselves.
If you can identify with this, perhaps you would consider volunteering, a great and practical way to proactively support others in your community. Volunteer Link is a befriending service in Ealing whereby trained volunteers are individually linked to isolated and vulnerable people in their local community to provide friendship and support on a regular basis . Our volunteers give up just a couple of hours a week to volunteer, yet make a significant positive impact on the lives of those they support. Clients say that their visits greatly enhance the quality of their lives and volunteers say that it’s very satisfying to know the positive difference they are making.
We are planning to do two one day training courses for new volunteers during the day on 16th August and 7th September. If you would like to train to be a volunteer with us and are free on one of these days please contact us at Volunteer Link by emailing Bridget Morris on firstname.lastname@example.org or ringing on 020-8434-3635. It would be great to have you onboard and we hope you enjoy the rest of the Summer.
Photo by courtesy of NCVO London. See Copyright notice and Licence
As we begin to think ahead to Volunteers Week in June, when volunteers and all things volunteering are celebrated, I have been pondering on the value of volunteers. Some people argue that expecting people to work without pay is wrong and that everyone should be paid for the work that they do. This is a good argument and it concerns me that some volunteers are exploited in these days of austerity and cut backs.
Yet with befriending volunteering, if our volunteers were paid workers the relationship between client and befriender would fundamentally change and even if we could afford to pay our befrienders – who wants someone to be paid to be their friend? I don’t think our clients would appreciate this at all.
In fact I believe that what clients value most about their befriender’s visits are that the person is choosing to give their time for free, that is to spend time with them, and is not there simply to earn a living. This is in marked contrast to other people with whom they are likely to have contact, who will be professionals such as carers.
These days many of us have less leisure time than ever, and so the time that we do have is very precious. Added to this is the vast choice of ways we have in which to spend our free time, especially for those of us who live in London. To choose to spend some of this time with a lonely, isolated person, who is not a family member, is, therefore, a real gift, and it is this that I believe is most appreciated by our clients.
Volunteers offer something unique and priceless that paid workers can never replace, hence we must continually value and treasure them and acknowledging them in some way during Volunteers Week is a great place to start.