In celebration of National Volunteer week we've decided to put together a collection of all things volunteering! Read ahead for some of our own personal stories, ideas on where to volunteer and interesting articles.
Peer Volunteer Adventures
I did some research assistant work on a few Eating Behaviour studies and some Trauma related studies. All of them were so interesting! I got to eat lots of yummy food when working on the eating studies (even though I was supposed to be prepping it for participants, not eating it all!) and heard some incredible stories when working on the trauma studies. These were my first experiences where I learned just how important it is to create space for people to feel safe and heard in a mental health related space. ~ PW Ash
I had an interesting experience a few years ago volunteering for an organisation that we shall not name (they are no longer operating though). Basically, myself and a few other volunteers were given free entry to a high profile music gig, and asked to mingle in the crowd and raise awareness for our cause, whilst collecting donations in purpose-built donation cups. I got lost from the other vollies quite early in the night, and when I managed to find a couple of them, they appeared to be… a wee bit drunk… and seemed to have 'lost' their money collecting cups! ~ LETSS Peer Worker
My first volunteering experience was at my local community market, which is a shop that sells donated goods and uses the money to support community events, sporting clubs and local families. I volunteered there when I left high school and found that it was really lovely to meet the local people within my home town, it also helped build some confidence in myself as this was my first experience of 'working'.
I also volunteered at another local market: Love, Hope and Gratitude Foundation Inc which raises community awareness and provides support for people effected by domestic violence. This was an incredible experience as this foundation was just being established after a lot of hard work from its founder. See more here http://www.lovehopeandgratitude.org.au/
Other than that, I've just done some volunteering at random events like a few days for the Australian and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders. I spent the entire time being so nervous as I was way out of my comfort zone, but it was a good opportunity to gain more knowledge. Otherwise, I was really proud of myself for sticking at it considering I was so nervous. ~ PW Liz
Volunteering for my community organisation was a scary step to take at first. I had just come out of a really unhealthy relationship and felt quite vulnerable and isolated. I found that volunteering was the perfect way to feel connected to others, without some of the pressures I'd experienced in purely social friendships. For example, through working with other community members towards common goals which reflected our shared values, I was still able to engage in meaningful conversations and activities, but I didn't need to talk about myself if I didn't want to. I learnt so much about human rights issues and community development, and after a few months, I was even given the opportunity to travel interstate for a National conference, all expenses paid. This was definitely not something I would have been able to do otherwise at that time, and is a special memory for me. I later gained a paid role with the organisation, which enabled me to further develop my professional networks and open new career pathways.~ LETSS Peer Worker
Throughout my studies at University I attempted to take every opportunity I could to do a bit of volunteer work. One of the stranger…but definitely fun positions I took up was as the official photographer of my University's rock-climbing club. Aside from this there were some slightly more formal and perhaps meaningful ones. I spent a year as a telephone support person for Lifeline, got involved with a youth mental health organization called batyr, supported newly arrived migrants and refugees, amongst other more casual and short-term endeavours. While all of these experiences were undoubtedly challenging in their own ways, they also allowed me to gain a whole heap of knowledge, skills and new connections (that I can confidently say I wouldn't have gained from just reading textbooks and doing coursework for four years). – PW Olga
Okay… so you've heard about the benefits that the LETSS peer workers have got out of volunteering, but we thought we'd share a few other resources on the benefits of volunteering and how you can go about volunteering.
https://headtohealth.gov.au/meaningful-life/purposeful-activity/volunteering - A short, easy-to-follow read on some of the benefits of volunteering.
https://growensemble.com/why-volunteer/ - 7 reasons to volunteer!
https://www.volunteer.com.au/advice-and-tips/5-steps-to-finding-your-perfect-volunteer-opportunity - some helpful tips on how to start your volunteering journey.
Feeling inspired to do some volunteering but not sure where to start…? Here are some ideas!
Red Cross offers opportunities to volunteer in the areas of, community, emergency services, retail, customer service, administration.
https://www.redcross.org.au/volunteer - you can search for volunteer roles by state
Volunteerablitity (through Orana) provides organisations and volunteers (over 18yrs) the confidence and skills they need to work together to create a more inclusive community.
They provide support to volunteer for people with disability.
As well as FREE Disability Awareness sessions to community organisations.
You can also volunteer as a buddy to support inclusion.
Make a difference in someone's life and transform your community. As a volunteer buddy, you will have the chance to influence and help to create an inclusive society, by giving support, facilitating connections and offering on-on-one assistance throughout someone's volunteer journey.
Trees for life (and other outdoor volunteering)
Want to get out in nature?
Trees for life provide the opportunity to get outside, plant some seeds, care for the environment and be part of a community. Find out more at the following link: https://treesforlife.org.au/volunteer
If volunteering out in nature sounds you're your cup of teathe following link has some other ideas on outdoor volunteering opportunities https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/goodliving/posts/2018/05/volunteering-opportunities
Just Listening Community
The Just Listening Community is a community-led alternative for people experiencing emotional distress. It is a meaningful project that aims to build capacity in the community to offer support and connection to one another.
There is currently an opportunity to train as a volunteer for the just listening community. All the information can be found at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/just-listening-community-volunteer-training-may-june-tickets-151904589717
Volunteering at LETSS
We do get a lot of enquiries about volunteering with LETSS, and although we don't have any opportunities available at the moment, we are always looking for ways to engage with our community! Currently we are looking for contributions to our zine etc
That's all from us!
Thank you for having a look at our blog on all things volunteering! These are just a few ideas. There are so many other opportunities out there…you can reach out to your local council, sporting clubs, charity shops, anything that feels interesting and/or meaningful to you. And if you don't feel you have the capacity/energy/interest to volunteer at the moment, that's perfectly fine too – we hope you found this to be an interesting and informative read either way :)