I haven’t got time for that!

How many times have you thought of volunteering and then thought, “I haven’t got time for that!”? Many people are under the impression that to volunteer requires dedicated hours every week for an indefinite period of time. And for volunteering with some charities, particularly helplines that require you to undergo extensive training, it is true.

However there are many things we do from day to day that most of us don’t think twice about but are considered volunteering all the same.

Maybe you offer a lift to a neighbour who has no car?

Maybe you call on an elderly neighbour for a chat or to see if they need anything in the shops?

Maybe you mind children for a friend so they can get some valuable time out with their partner?

All are a form of volunteering – giving your time free of charge for someone else’s benefit.

On 1st October next, Volunteering Ireland will be celebrating a National Day of Volunteering and they would like as many people as possible to participate. One idea is the Random Act of Volunteering. They are asking that everyone make an effort to do one thing for someone else on that day, no matter how small. And if you really can’t do anything, then maybe you could thank the people you know who volunteer their time or services either by thanking them in person or by adding them to the Thank You Roll of Honour on the website.

“Even if a person can just do just one small thing on the day, such as walk an elderly neighbour’s dog, or register to give blood, it does make a difference.  And, as all the research indicates, helping in this way is just as beneficial for the volunteer, as it is for the recipient”, Dr. Yvonne McKenna, CEO of Volunteer Centres Ireland says.

Miriam O'Callaghan volunteers her time at the launch of National Day of Volunteering

It’s not all about helping others – volunteering can be good for you too. VolunteerMatch, a US counterpart of Volunteer Centres Ireland, released a study in April 2010 showing that volunteering not only enhances physical and mental health, but also strengthens relationships between employers and employees.

Key findings were that 68% said volunteering made them feel physically healthier, and 29% of volunteers suffering from a chronic condition said volunteering helped them manage their illness.  73% of volunteers reported lower stress levels, and over 75% volunteering through work said they felt better about their employer as a result.

Dr. Yvonne McKenna, Volunteering Ireland and Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh at the launch of the National Day of Volunteering

It has been a pleasure to be part of the steering committee for the National Day of Volunteering, everyone involved was incredibly enthusiastic, a wonderful group of people! And I am reliably informed that being on the steering committee also counts as me volunteering my time 🙂

If you want to find out more about the National Day of Volunteering, please follow them on Twitter, visit the website and tell as many people as you can about it.

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