Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gaining from Giving Back

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gaining from Giving Back

Article excerpt

Byline: Niki Chesworth

[bar] CCORDING to Alastair McDougall, executive director for people at the volunteers and charity work organisation WRVS, "Volunteering gives you the stand-out factor on your CV, which is all the more important in these tough economic times when jobs are harder to find. It shows not only commitment and drive, but that you want to give back to your community, something which is attractive to all potential employers.

"It can also be pretty depressing sitting at home churning out job applications. Becoming part of a team of volunteers not only helps keep up social confidence, but can also give a sense of perspective, and of course you can learn from the life-experiences of fellow volunteers."

During Volunteers' Week, starting on June 1, the nation is being urged to think about ways it can give back. However, volunteering is already a growing trend. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is giving up to 70,000 people the chance to volunteer.

Called Games Makers, the volunteers will be taking on a variety of roles, from welcoming visitors and transporting athletes, to helping out behind the scenes in the technology team to make sure the results get displayed as quickly and as accurately as possible.

The majority are giving up 10 days of their time and were selected from more than 240,000 volunteering applicants and after 100,000 interviews. In addition, the Mayor of London has recruited an 8,000-strong volunteer army to be Team London Ambassadors who will welcome the world to London during the Games. Based at 40 key locations across the capital, they will look the part with purple shirts and quintessentially British trilby hats.

Steve Girdler, director of London 2012 Partnership, Adecco Group, says: "Volunteering at the Games is a huge opportunity to gain fantastic work experience in a busy, high-pressure environment. It represents a chance to put an event of enormous magnitude on volunteers' CVs, and to really make a mark with prospective employers."

But the Games are a one-off. What volunteering opportunities are available all year round? Dan Sumners, senior policy and communications officer of Volunteering England, says: "While Volunteers' Week is a chance to celebrate the work of volunteers, it is just one week.

"Every year, over 20 million people across England and the UK volunteer, donating more than 100 million hours to their communities every week. It has been estimated that the economic value of this activity is worth in excess of [pounds sterling]40 billion to our economy."

Statistics also show that one in four people participate in formal volunteering at least once a month and more than a third in informal volunteering.

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU "Find something that interests you and which requires skills that you want to develop or want to acquire," adds Sumners. …

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