Statistics New Zealand recently found that young people aged between 15 and 24 volunteer much less than the rest of New Zealand. That’s a shame, considering all the benefits to be gained from volunteering, not to mention the fact you’re helping the community!
Student Volunteer Week (SVW), which is in its second year, is a national campaign organised by Volunteering New Zealand, which promotes and encourages student volunteering.
Throughout SVW, students, educational institutions and community organisations are able to think up creative ways of celebrating and rewarding student volunteers and inspiring other students to begin volunteering.
They – and you – can do this by organising events on campus, providing volunteers with recognition and awards, and by sharing positive volunteering experiences with others.
Earlier this week, we asked a bunch of students to share their thoughts on volunteering. If you still feel unsure about it, check out these great quotes!
What do students gain from volunteering?
On a personal level…
“Volunteering is a unique chance to try out diverse and challenging forms of work, which is great for improving confidence and self-esteem.”
“It is also a great way to understand diverse perspectives and challenge yourself by taking on responsibilities and getting out of your comfort zone!”
On a social level…
“Build a stronger sense of community, wellbeing and an attachment to place. Connecting with the community allows you to meet all kinds of people and make interesting new friends.”
“Meet people from different cultures and social circles. Getting to know people involved in different organisations around the city.”
“Develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be a New Zealander. See your city from a new perspective and enrich your social intelligence.”
On a professional level…
“Further your knowledge of a specific sector, open doors, build contacts, and importantly discover what mode of work is for you!”
“Gain valuable professional skills, get used to networking, improve public speaking and gain industry specific skills. All of which will enrich you as a person and provide greater opportunities in the future.”
And most of all…
What if I don’t have time?
It can be challenging to prioritise volunteer work, because it is free and unpaid.
Busy students may find it difficult to find time to volunteer, especially if they are working part-time jobs.
Solution: Set goals and make priorities. Identify what you want to gain from volunteering, and what you want to give back. Set small manageable goals and start out with a small position which doesn’t consume much time. Remember that organisations are taking a risk when they take you on as a volunteer; so value your position and consider it a real commitment.
What if I have personal problems preventing me from volunteering?
Sometimes personal issues around confidence, anxiety and depression can impede enthusiasm and confidence for volunteering.
Solution: Volunteering and community engagement can be a great way to combat feelings of isolation, anxiety or depression. There are many supportive groups and organisations that you can become a part of, and working alongside other like-minded people to achieve something you care about will be very fulfilling!
Want to get involved?
You can find out if an event is being organised at your university for Student Volunteer Week, or you can take matters into your own hands and celebrate fellow student volunteers, organise campaigns or new projects! You can find more information about that on our website which also has a bunch of posters and Facebook and Twitter images which you can download to promote Student Volunteer Week.
Start volunteering now and help co-ordinate and build the future of the volunteering sector. You can participate in a growing movement, contribute to improving student volunteering opportunities and work to cause real change in your community.
Find an issue you feel strongly about, or a cause that interests you. Be creative, share your ideas with others and help build the future of volunteering!
Some tips and thoughts from other students.
“If you are new to volunteering start out small. Get involved in causes like sports teams, fundraising, and gradually shift into more skill based difficult positions.”
“Get involved in your university volunteering groups, clubs and societies. There are plenty of them!”
“Challenge yourself, get to know new people and step outside your comfort zone.”
“Don’t think that because you are studying you don’t have enough time. If you fill your schedule with meaningful things that you are interested in you will find a way to make it fit in.”
“Just give new things a try! Even if you are not sure you’ll be good at it, or unsure about committing. Experiment with one off events or volunteer with a group of friends”.
Student Volunteer Week will run from the 11th to 17th of April 2016. If you want to find out more about Student Volunteer Week, visit Volunteering New Zealand’s website. You can also follow our Facebook page to hear about some great experiences had by student volunteers and take a quiz to find out what kind of student volunteer you are!
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