Volunteering – learn new skills and have fun!

Volunteering boosts your cv!

Volunteering is a brilliant way to gain work experience, develop new skills and help people in your local area. Employers and universities seriously rate volunteering experience; you can even pick up national qualifications for your efforts along the way.

We had a chat with Chris Bushby from Discover Volunteering to find out more about how to get started in volunteering and how you can work towards a Community Volunteering Qualification (CVQ)

Why should I think about volunteering?

Volunteering can improve your confidence, build your work skills, help you gain knowledge in a new subject, and give you the chance to travel. It can even be fun! You can also make a big difference to the lives of the people you volunteer to help. Even a small commitment can have a lasting effect on an organisation and the people it represents.

When applying for jobs or further education, your applications need to stand out. It’s important to be able to draw on your own experiences in interviews and volunteering will definitely give you lots to talk about!

So, what is a Community Volunteering Qualification?

Community Volunteering Qualifications are national qualifications for volunteers accredited through ASDAN. They are available to anyone aged 14 and up and are ideal for people working towards GCSEs, A Levels, NVQs, apprenticeships, Sports Leaders Awards, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or Degree Level Studies.

CVQs mix practical volunteer placements with taught modules and assignments. They are a great way to boost your CV, earn credit for your volunteering and make a difference to your local community. A level 3 CVQ will also help you gain extra UCAS points.

What kind of volunteer work can I do?

There are so many different types of work available, from helping in charity shops to exciting adventures at home and abroad. Many volunteers support local charities and volunteer in school, whilst others work across the UK or even travel abroad. We have helped students get involved in projects on cookery, sports coaching, first aid, theatre, conservation and even volunteering at music festivals.

Katie’s blog (a year 13 student on work experience with us) gives a great account of volunteering both at home and abroad.

Do I need experience to apply?

No. Most people volunteer to gain experience and organizations welcome volunteers from all backgrounds. All you will need is plenty of enthusiasm and a willingness to get involved.

How much time do I need to give?

Volunteering opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, from long-term, regular commitments to one-off projects, which might only take a day or two. To get your CVQ, you must put in at least 20 hours volunteering in the community, plus complete a course of guided research and written modules in the classroom or online.

What kinds of skills can I develop?

Where do we start! You can pick up so many new skills – including teamwork, responsibility, initiative, communication, relationship-building, computing skills and, depending on what you do, professional work skills – like radio production with a community radio station or construction skills on a community building project.

Will it help me get a job or get into uni?

In a word ‘YES’! Your application and CV will stand out; it will offer employers or universities something extra and you will certainly be more confident in an interview talking about something practical you have been involved in. Taking a Level 3 CVQ will earn you 30 or 50 UCAS points, which may just help get you to the University of your choice.

How do I find volunteer opportunities?

If you’re local to our organisation (East Midlands) you can start at http://www.discovervolunteering.org Other options include:

Contact your local Volunteer Centre at http//www.voluntarycentreservices.org.uk. Talk to your school or careers advisor to see if they can help you find volunteer placements or enroll you on a CVQ. 

How do I find out more about ASDAN’s Community Volunteering Qualifications?

Check out http//www.discovercvq.org or contact Chris at chris.bushby@discovervolunteering.org

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