5 reasons that volunteering while studying might just be the best idea ever…

Studying at university or college is a huge task. Between lectures, seminars, tutorials, labs, reading and writing reports it can feel that there’s just not enough time to cram it all in and that’s before you even start studying for exams, working part time, socialising or making time to speak to your family.

However, there are some reasons that you still might want to consider volunteering while studying:

  1. It can help you gain valuable and transferable skills

There are many skills that are transferable to all kinds of jobs across every sector. Taking on a volunteer role can be to develop and practise these skills.

A couple of these key skills include communication in all its forms (writing, speaking on the phone etc.) and team working skills.

  1. Getting experience

So, you have the skills you need to land that job. Great! Now all you need is to be able to demonstrate them. In a really competitive job market having practical examples that you can use in an interview are more important than ever. Being able to talk about how you have recently used these skills in a voluntary capacity could set you apart from other applicants.

  1. Meet new people and get involved your (new) community

Volunteering can be a great opportunity to meet people. This can be especially helpful if you are living in a new place. It can also be a nice way to find out more about the community that you are living in and be actively involved in it.13645078_1204367659594797_8972420390861312461_n

  1. Do something worthwhile

Studying can be stressful and for many volunteers their role is a welcome opportunity to do something different and a good way to get away from those stresses and focus on something else for a couple of hours. Feeling that you are doing something worthwhile can be a great confidence boost and this can also help to combat stress.

  1. Find out about yourself

Volunteering is a wonderful way to have a go at doing something new. You might discover something that you are great at, a potential future career or find out about a cause or an issue that you care deeply about.

Age Scotland has had many student volunteers in recent years and they have often told us that volunteering has helped them secure a job or helped them to decide what they want to do when they finish their studies.

If you are concerned about not having enough time to fit volunteering in, it’s good to remember that volunteering can be really flexible. There are roles that require a couple of hours every week, but there are loads of others that involve just a one off activity (for example supporting at an event), just volunteering during holidays or roles that can be worked in when you have time.

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If you are feeling inspired to have a look for a volunteering role you can find out about volunteering with Age Scotland on our website here: www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland/get-involved/volunteer/

If we don’t have a role you fancy or would suit you, you can find out about all sorts of volunteering opportunities across the whole of Scotland on Volunteer Scotland website here: www.volunteerscotland.net/

Volunteers Week: Meet Charlotte!

Today kicks off Volunteers Week – a chance for us to celebrate the fantastic contribution that our volunteers across the charity make. Today we’d like to introduce Charlotte – a volunteer in our fundraising department and older people’s champion!


Originally from Germany Charlotte grew up in Canada. As part of her community work requirements in Canada Charlotte spent several months volunteering in a senior health centre in Toronto.

It was there Charlotte began to realise how underappreciated older people can be in our society. The majority of older people Charlotte met there were hospitalised due to serious illness which left them unable to live at home, although mentally and emotionally they were just as capable as the younger doctors and nurses looking after them. This made their loneliness all the more difficult for Charlotte to bear with some residents having only the occasional member of family dropping off for a coffee, leaving the health care system to look after their family members health and happiness. This is inspired Charlotte to volunteer to make a difference to the lives of older people.

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Charlotte stated ‘In a fast paced world where success is measured on individual merit; the elderly are quite often left behind and undervalued. Add to this the trend of families living spread over cities and countries it results in the biological and original support network for older people slowly disappearing. This means more support is needed from local communities, something which Age Scotland is aware of and encourages through the support of its many member groups’

Since joining Age Scotland as a fundraising volunteer Charlotte has been the driving force behind her organisation supporting the charity in a number of ways such as taking part in sporting events and coffee mornings. Charlotte also has the opportunity to assist at ad-hoc charity events and will be volunteering at the upcoming Forth Rail Bridge abseil.

Charlotte (centre) and colleagues from Residence Inn Edinburgh who took part in the Edinburgh Marathon last weekend.

Charlotte (centre) and colleagues from Residence Inn Edinburgh who took part in the Edinburgh Marathon last weekend.

Charlotte’s family live spread across Europe and she wishes she could directly support her parents and grandparents more. Knowing she will be in Scotland for the foreseeable future, Charlotte feels rewarded that by volunteering for Age Scotland she can contribute to supporting older people in Scotland and is able to give back to the community she states has so warmly welcomed her and made her feel at home.


To find out more about our fundraising volunteering opportunities contact Stacey Kitzinger on 0333 323 2400 or at stacey.kitzinger@agescotland.org.uk 

She’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Volunteering at the Commonwealth Games

John Stewart, 69, shares his experience of volunteering at the Commonwealth Games and why he would encourage others to volunteer.

When I was young, men slightly older than me who had enjoyed or endured National Service would offer the advice “never volunteer”. Perhaps that stuck with me, because up until the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, I had never volunteered.

Because I was retired and widowed and looking for things to do, and not least because it was in Glasgow where I live, I decided to put my name forward. When I heard that 50,000 had done the same and 25,000 were to be interviewed for 15,000 places I assumed that being 69 would rule me out.

However I was called to interview in early 2013. The process was very slick at the Commonwealth offices in Glasgow.  My passport was scanned, my picture taken and I responded to a standard set of questions. After that, I received a number of newsletters but heard nothing back so assumed that was that. Then in May of 2014, I found out I had been selected as a driver which had been my first choice. So I became a Clyde-sider.

Me and my grandson Ryan

Me and my grandson Ryan, who loved the mascot Clyde!

I attended two training days in June at the place that was to be the transport depot.  I was amazed to learn that there was to be over 1,100 cars available and 1,500 drivers, some of whom would be on shift and all of whom would be doing 10 hour shifts.  My rota extended over sixteen days with two days off.  At first that sounded a lot but they explained that during the ten hours would be broken up while we waited for clients that were attending meetings or events.

Outsize Pipers

Outsize Pipers in George Square in Glasgow

My role was to be what was called a T1 driver.  This involved being assigned to a specific car and a specific client who would be part of what was called the Games Family.  For the most part these were representatives of the Commonwealth Federations of the 71 countries competing.  Before the Games started I had most of three days driving between the various locations in Glasgow where events were to be held until the routes were well known.

HRH Prince Tunku Imran, his wife and I

HRH Prince Tunku Imran, his wife and I

Clients were arriving at different times so I had some days at the beginning of the Games where I was a support driver, waiting for my clients to sign on.  During that time I chauffeured for the Bahamas, Swaziland and Australia until my client from Guyana arrived.  As well as driving there was time for me to chat to the other drivers at the depot and everyone had a story to tell.  Many had volunteered at the Olympics in London and had travelled from many parts of England and stayed at their own expense, simply because they had enjoyed the experience so much.  Meeting other drivers and sharing their experiences all added to the enjoyment.

Most of the driving was taking the clients from their hotel to a Games venue, moving between venues or to the Athlete’s Village.  A massive bonus was that with my type of car pass I could park close to the venue and my personal pass allowed me into the events to watch from the back.  I saw Rugby at Ibrox, Boxing, Netball and Gymnastics at the Scottish Conference Centre and the icing on the cake was three evenings watching Athletics at Hampden.

Hampden

Panoramic view of Hampden on 28th July 2014

So what have I taken away from the experience? I found I could speak easily to complete strangers and I intend to keep that going.  I now find I will engage people in conversation in queues and in cafes.  During the games the uniform gave that licence but I realised people are often happy to chat. I found that I was still able to do a full 10 hours without getting weary and I am now avoiding daytime telly in favour of doing things. I golf twice week and my son and daughter have found lots of D.I.Y. to keep me amused!

I found volunteering gave me a great sense of worth. One of the Glasgow clients I had in the car works for a local hospice and invited me to get in touch about doing something for them so I did.  I have a set of forms to fill in and hopefully they will find a role for me which may well involve driving or perhaps administration or IT which was my work pre-retirement. I would thoroughly recommend volunteering. Although there is a commitment, it is on your own terms and, as I have found, there is something for everyone – whatever
your age and capability.

To find out about volunteering opportunities in your area, visithttp://www.volunteerscotland.net/

Introducing the Age Scotland Employer of the Year Award

Do you know someone who is making a difference to the lives of older people in Scotland. Well tell us about them! The Age Scotland Awards are now open for nominations, says Katrina Coutts, Age Scotland’s Communications and Marketing Manager.

The Age Scotland Awards celebrate the groups and individuals that have made a significant contribution to the lives of older people.

Age Scotland Awards

Last year we were bowled over with the nominations we received and the winners, announced at a ceremony at the Scottish Parliament, were an inspiration and showed just how vital a part older people play in our communities. You can find out more about last years inspirational winners on our Awards pages.

This year, reflecting the fact that the number of older people in the workplace is rising – a combination of the scrapping of the mandatory retirement age and the ever-rising pension age – we’ve added a new category. Through the Employer of the Year Award we’re wanting to hear about those workplaces which are championing their older employees through good practice.

Earlier this year I took part in a discussion on BBC Radio Scotland’s Morning Call show on the back of a survey of more than 2,000 UK workers aged over 40. Of those surveyed, one in seven had seen younger staff promoted ahead of them and one in eight had been passed over for other opportunities at work.

More than one in 10 had been asked when they will retire and the same number reported having jokes made about their age, while one in seven have had someone ask them their age in a job interview.

The results suggest that, on average, 54 is when people believe their age really starts to negatively impact their career. 54! At that age you’re very likely to have a good chunk of your career ahead of you, so it’s a long time to be treading water or feeling out of place.

So please tell us you know of places where you’re not shunted into a corner once you pass 50, you are given opportunities to still develop your career, and your employer understands and responds to the other things going on in your life – particularly given the fact that people at this age have a higher likelihood of caring responsibilities, both for ageing relatives and also young grandchildren.

Whether it be through ensuring staff get pre-retirement training and in-depth pension support and advice, to providing flexible working or after work fitness clubs, our judges are looking for any innovative ways that companies are helping their older workforce.

full list of categories:

  • The Jess Barrow Award for Campaigning and Influencing – sponsored by McCarthy & Stone
  • The Patrick Brookes Partnership Award – sponsored by Specsavers
  • Service for Older People Award
  • Member Group of the Year Award – sponsored by David Urquhart Travel
  • Volunteer of the Year Award – sponsored by Solicitors for Older People Scotland
  • Employer of the Year Award

So get nominating. More information and the form can be found at www.agescotland.org.uk/awards

Nomination forms must be received no later than Friday 29 August. Further details of the actual Awards event, which will be held in October to mark international Older People’s Day, will be published shortly.

Learning the fun way

The Saltire Awards have been designed recognise the commitment and contribution of youth volunteering to voluntary organisations.

Brandon, a fantastic volunteer in our Dumfries shop is taking part, and the awards are helping him to record the skills, experience and learning he has gained.

Find out more about the Saltire Awards

Brandon, Age Scotland Volunteer

I started volunteering with Age Scotland in Dumfries after I left school and I didn’t want to sit about doing nothing. It has helped me gain skills which will be useful in a paid job. This includes working as a member of a team, taking instruction from managers and customer service amongst many others. I have learned that being reliable is important. I really enjoy coming into the shop because I get on well with everyone and I like the atmosphere. This is why I am happy to have done 500 hours volunteering.

Claire, Manager of Age Scotland, Dumfries

Since Brandon started with us in September he has really come out of his shell and gained a lot of new skills. He has become a key member of the team – he can be relied upon and work unsupervised. I’m really proud to see the development of his skills in such a short space of time and it’s great to see his contribution recognised by the 500 hour Saltire Award.

We enjoy having him in the shop as he has a great sense of humour and his cheeky character amused staff, volunteers and customers alike!

Interested in volunteering? Locate your nearest Age Scotland Shop
Follow the activities of the Dumfries shop on Facebook
Find out more about the Saltire Awards