Charity Jobs Pros and Cons
On Sunday, thousands of people will be pounding the streets of London as they aim to complete the marathon. Although many people will be running for charity, hundreds would have missed out on their chance to take part in the race.
However, there are many other ways you can help charities while having a lot of fun at the same time. So if you missed out on placing in this year’s marathon, here are five examples of other charity jobs you could do instead…
One of the easiest ways to do charity work is to work in a charity shop, and it can be quite an experience. You’ll work and meet with a diverse range of people and it also boosts your experience.
Brain worked for six months with Cancer Research UK in South London. “I was only going to stay for a week, but I started to love volunteering there. I learned vital skills such as communicating with those who have a disability, making firm decisions with unreasonable customers, showing patience, working in a busy environment and raising awareness of the charity. I work in retail now and gained valuable skills from the charity.”
PROS: You are gaining invaluable experience and feel part of the team.
CONS: Awkward customers and, as Brian puts it, “Working in the stock room was a nightmare. It always smelt of fish!”
From internship to full-time work
After graduating from the University of Warwick, Anna accepted an internship with the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) charity.
“My official role was a fundraising and communications intern. This involved everything from updating the database to writing the newsletters. However, at a small charity such as CLAPA, my role was less regimented than it might have been at a larger organisation. Soon I was taking on new responsibilities, including organising their annual conference.
“The conference was the highlight. To realise that I was capable of organising such an event gave me a real confidence boost and it went really well too.”
Four months before her internship was due to end, Anna was offered a full-time job. “I would recommend internships to all new graduates, especially those who can live in their parents’ house rent-free for a while!”
PROS: A full-time job at the end. Valuable experience. Responsibilities.
CONS: Internship pay can be low, so it pays to be able to stay somewhere rent-free for a bit.
Keep it live
Many charities such as Shelter and , such as the Edinburgh International Festival (which is a charity too), also need volunteers to help them with their events, and it’s an opportunity to see a lot of great acts for free.
Just to add to the bargain, you can also pick up a new skill if you train with St John’s Ambulance as a first aid volunteer, which is exactly what Ian did.
“I am a huge Gloucester rugby union fan,” he says. “After volunteering with St John’s Ambulance I am now confident in first aid. I used to always worry about what I would do if someone had a heart attack near me and thought I had better do something about that. Now I know what to do and I’ve wangled being able to see all Gloucester’s home games for nothing!”
PROS: Get to see top acts or teams for free and pick up new skills.
CONS: “Shivering in the wet on a rainy Saturday, while cupping a cold cup of tea in your hands!” says Ian.
Final-year fashion student Frances at the Manchester School of Art volunteered for a Hearts & Minds charity Unique Fashion Experience.
“Hearts & Minds raises money for children with autism and heart defects and it’s a charity I like to help out with in my spare time. This event managed to combine my two loves, fashion and charity,” she says.
So what was the night like? “It took place at Rosso’s a swanky restaurant in Manchester. I have never seen so many flashing cameras and glamour. We’ve had a few shows at college, but this took my breath away.
“Coleen Rooney attended a few months after giving birth and just looked great in her little black dress and red clutch bag. She also took time to talk to me, so I have completely changed my views on her!”
PROS: Work you really believe in and a celebrity fashion show.
CONS: It is hard work. “The organisation before the show is endless!” says Frances.
One of the most satisfying volunteer jobs is becoming a befriender with Age UK. Loneliness is a huge issue for older people and, as Age UK reports, half of all older people consider the television to be their main form of company. The charity set up a befriending service where volunteers spend time with older people to offer companionship as well as conversation over a long period of time.
Neil volunteers as a befriender in Stockport, visiting a man with early onset Alzheimer’s. “He’s still very switched on,” Neil says. “He talks to me about the papers and he will pick out funny articles. He has a lovely garden and will tell me about the plants and flowers.”
“Befriending is all about continued companionship, and knowing they get some value from your visits. You learn new skills too.”
PROS: A genuine bond can be established and you are highly valued, and become their friend in fact.
CONS: This is only a con if you let it be, but the programme is based on companionship over a long period of time, so it is a commitment.
By Justin Stevens
Justin Stevens is regular contributor to Nursing Standard and Totaljobs. He has worked for a wide variety of publishing titles and websites as a freelance editor and writer, ranging from the Times Educational Supplement to OK! via the Sunday Times, The Observer and Brand Republic.