Why did you want to volunteer?
My motivation to volunteer were not altogether altruistic – I was unemployed, having recently resigned from my last post due to personal reasons and was tired of sitting around going virtually nothing productive. Being familiar with NACS and the work that they do I decided that volunteering would mutually benefit both parties – NACAS gets a new volunteer to help them with what they need and I the opportunity to develop skills that would be transferable to the workplace, meet new people, do something worthwhile and, of course, get me out of the house for the couple of hours per week.
How was your experience?
My volunteering experience was very positive; it had its moments, but largely was a positive experience. During my time I did a lot and achieved a lot but I will admit that I was plagued with nerves and anxieties about starting with NACAS and kept asking myself “Why am I doing this?”, “I don’t think I should be here” and “Will I be able to help?”. These and a few more thoughts rattled through my head. What I got from my experience was that NACAS is a cornucopia of people from different backgrounds and experience all working together to achieve the goals of the organisation and their own personal goals. I always felt supported and that if I needed to ask for help or assistance/guidance, that it was there and it made the experience of volunteering so much better. Because the support of the team was there and that everyone was helpful and gave such great guidance and assistance you quickly become part of the team, you know that you can go to people and that you’re time and commitment to the organisation is valued.
What did you get from volunteering?
I got a lot from volunteering and made the most of my time with NACAS and improved my skills which gave my CV quite a boost while I was unemployed. But for me the most important thing that I got from NACAS was the realisation that I am lot more capable than I gave myself credit for. My confidence and self-belief increased dramatically while volunteering with them (in no small part to the wonderful team that I worked alongside with) and believe that this increased confidence and self-awareness of my own capabilities was the linchpin that helped me secure my new position in Local Government.
How did volunteering help you?
Before volunteering with NACAS, as said, I had very little confidence or belief in my abilities after having previously resigned from a job and before that spending a lot of time and money going to University to prepare for a career that never amounted to anything I was, understandably, at quite a low ebb. I honestly felt that I was merely drifting through life and that nothing was ever going to change for me. So with no job, no prospects and very little hope I decided that if I want things to change then I am going to have to make them change so doing some volunteer work for the change that I made. Simply by doing a few hours of volunteering per week, getting out of the house and meeting new people I was amazed at how quickly you can go from being a quite a self-effacing introvert to a positive (slightly more extroverted) person – who for the first time – actually felt a little more positive.
Now it isn’t as easy as I make it sound it does take a lot personally to change an outlook but NACAS is an environment (for me anyway) where you are constantly being pushed out of your comfort zone and have no choice but to adapt to the changing situations. You have to learn how to interact with a whole host of people with whom you would probably never meet, to engage with them in a way that you can effectively communicate and how to be personable and make people feel at ease and that you can help them. If you allow NACAS to do that to you, to keep pushing you and you embrace it you’ll find that you quickly develop and that you might be surprised at how well you can handle things.