Volunteering takes centre stage this month as the spotlight falls on its growing value in helping people of all ages find work.
With competition for jobs and careers fiercer than ever, the experience gained on a voluntary placement can mean the difference between success and failure.
National Student Volunteer Week begins on Monday, February 20 and aims to highlight the huge variety of opportunities available in both public and private sectors.
Those taking part can gain the key skills and experience that make them stand out from the crowd, and in many cases reap the reward of putting something back into their local community.
Middlesbrough Council is one of a number of major employers across the Tees Valley which works with volunteers in partnership with other organisations and institutions.
Among those working a number of hours every week as a volunteer with the authority is Donna Hatton, alongside her studies for a foundation degree in Travel and Tourism at Middlesbrough College.
Her studies include a top-up year at Teesside University, but since 2009 she has also found time to gain vital experience with the Council’s Festivals and Events and Sports Development teams.
And Donna’s in no doubt that the work she’s done on events ranging from Odin’s Glow and the Cleveland Show to Music Live, the Middlesbrough Mela and the town’s fun runs, will stand her in good stead for the future.
Donna, 38, said: “The degree is great and is just the right foundation for the sort of career I have in mind.
“But the volunteering I’ve done has enabled me to put what I’ve been learning to practical use, and it’s been a fantastic way to gain experience.
“Jobs are hard to come by, but I’m hoping the combination of my studies and the invaluable hands-on experience I’ve gained working with the Council will give me as good a chance as possible.”
National Volunteer Week celebrates the fantastic contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK, and aims to raise the profile of those regularly contribute to society, while inspiring others to get involved too.
Sharon Barker, Middlesbrough Council’s Voluntary Sector Liaison Officer, said: “Donna’s a great example of what volunteering is all about.
“The days of doing work experience just to tick another box are long gone – employers are looking for good, relevant vocational experience, and that’s exactly what we aim to give people.
“Volunteers have a great deal to offer the organisations and communities they work with, and in turn they stand to gain a great deal.”
Middlesbrough Council is currently recruiting for volunteers in a number of areas including press office, museums, libraries and the town’s new myplace youth centre.
For further information on local opportunities, volunteers and employers can contact Voluntary Sector Liaison Officer Sharon Barker on 01642 729127 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Further resources can also be found on the Volunteering England website at www.volunteering.org.uk
Help your Community, Help Yourself! Volunteer Recruitment Fair at Middlesbrough college takes place February 22 11am-3pm.
Everyone is welcome and Middlesbrough College have arranged a shuttle bus which will pick up attendees from Middlesbrough Bus Station every 20 minutes.
Organised by Voices for Volunteers, the volunteer co-ordinator’s forum for Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland, MVDA and RCVDA.
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