The Major Benefits Of Becoming A Volunteer
The Major Benefits Of Becoming A Volunteer

The Major Benefits Of Becoming A Volunteer

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on 5th Apr 2017 6 mins

For many, volunteering abroad is a life-altering experience. The ability to travel, to see the world and to absorb various cultures allows us to open our minds, and this is only amplified when volunteering becomes a part of your travel plans. By volunteering, you’ll be able to take a unique look at varying walks of life, experiencing what it is to live day-to-day in fascinating locations, which oftentimes experience trying circumstances. As a volunteer, there is much to learn and a number of things to take away from a trip of this sort, ranging from the personal to the professional.

Personal Benefits

When considering your first volunteering trip (and whether or not it is the right choice for you), many people will immediately ask themselves: do I have the confidence to take part in a trip like this? Truthfully, it is totally normal to feel nervous about your first time volunteering, especially when in a different country. The location is unknown, luxuries often must be left behind, and the notion of working in relatively close quarters with a bunch of strangers can be a little intimidating. That said, though: just take a step back, take a deep breath, and remind yourself why you wanted to volunteer in the first place. Unknown locations become new adventures; no luxuries mean unplugging from your social media bubble and getting to know real life again; and that ‘bunch of strangers’ that you’re so concerned about, will soon become lifelong friends. After all, you’re all there for the same reason, right? Which means you’ve already got so much in common!

Make no mistake: volunteering trips are not without their trials. You may witness examples of sheer cruelty, and have your faith questioned – to see impoverished children suffering in third world countries can be heartbreaking, and witnessing the plight of endangered animals can be just as distressing. But in each of these things, there is much for you to learn: you may gain a greater appreciation of your own fortune; you’ll learn patience and understanding; and of course, you’ll grow in terms of compassion. You will earn each of these traits through practice, but their lessons will stay with you for life.

On top of all of this, you’ll leave the experience with plenty of stories to tell. You’ll create memories with your fellow volunteers, and you’ll pick up a plethora of invaluable skills to be used elsewhere in life – whether on another volunteering experience, or in more of a professional environment.

Volunteering in Namibia

Professional Benefits

Though the whole ‘return to work’ thing seems to be a bit of a harsh crash back to reality, the fact is that volunteering experience looks fantastic on your cv. Not only will potential new employers be impressed by the skill sets obtained on your adventures, but the ability to travel solo (and your consideration to spend time helping others) tick some major boxes in terms of employability, and show any prospective bosses that you’re the furthest thing from naïve.

While on your volunteering trip, it’s more than likely that you’ll be expected to work amongst groups of other people, each with their own backstories, upbringings, and idiosyncrasies. It’s in these moments where you’ll learn true teamwork (as well as cultural awareness and understanding), and the ways in which you cope with these situations could prove to you which kind of job positions you’d be comfortable with in the future. Certainly, when looking at working as part of a team or even aiming towards a more managerial position, these instances of real-life team efforts will work in your favour and provide a good reference point for your prospective employer.

Mental, Physical And Cathartic Benefits

When it comes down to it, you may be looking to volunteer just because you want to do it. Whether your ultimate goal is to heal the world and to spend your life caring for others (say, for example, as a teacher or a vet), or whether you’re looking for a bit of an escape from the norm, a volunteering experience is always going to be a brilliant choice. There are numerous mental and physical benefits to volunteering, but first of all, we’ll explore some of the ways in which an adventure like this can provide catharsis.

It has been said that there is an element of healing to be found in altruism. Many volunteers report experiencing a sense of fulfillment when taking part in a cause that speaks to them on more of an emotional level: take, for example, those who may not have had the best childhood. By teaching underprivileged kids in destinations such as Indonesia or Africa, many have reported a sense of closure and healing of emotional scars, giving better opportunity to others and, as such, experiencing a feeling of closure. Or maybe you've recently lost a beloved family pet? Working with animals in need can prove to be therapeutic, and this extension of compassion really can make a whole world of difference to those that really need it. And before you think that your small act of kindness may not be quite enough: consider that, through your efforts, you could well be contributing to fundamental changes in people's lives. Without volunteers teaching English language, for example, some impoverished families may never find the opportunity to work and provide for their own. You will be helping to break the cycle of poverty, and allowing these people to better aid themselves in the future.

Volunteering in Africa

Of course, all the above could, too, contribute to your mental wellbeing. Seeing the impact of your time on a project will leave you with an awesome sense of fulfilment (particularly if you spend some time after the project reading up on updates – The Great Projects will always inform volunteers of project accomplishments through our blogs!), and as such, an overwhelming majority of people who have volunteered in the last 12 months have noted an enrichment in their sense of purpose in life (96%). In addition to this, 94% of people have stated that their mood has greatly improved since taking part in a volunteering activity, as well as feeling as if they have a greater control of their health and that volunteering has even worked wonders for lowering their stress levels! Each of these things are massively beneficial to anybody’s mental wellbeing, and therefore are worth taking into consideration.

Finally, volunteering has been proven to have a positive impact on our bodies, too. In addition to improving our thinking skills, volunteering can improve our mobility skills – particularly in the case of older volunteers, symptoms of chronic pain are reduced and walking can become easier. But on any level, a chance to prove your own strength while pushing yourself that little bit more than you would in daily life, is a chance that should not be missed. See what you’re capable of by taking a look at our project page today (and don’t worry, there’s something for everybody – just check out the ‘is this for you?’ tab and see how you feel!)

(Stats for this blog were received from the National Health Service. Check out an awesome infographic about volunteering by clicking here!)

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