Volunteering can be very rewarding and bring lots of unexpected benefits. Some roles are very flexible and can be done on an ad hoc basis, for example helping at an event. Whilst others ask for a regular commitment. Whatever your motivation and time you have available there is something for everyone.
Some people volunteer to give something back to their community. If an organisation has helped you, you may want to do something in return and your experience is likely to be valuable to them. What you have learnt from your particular situation and your experience is likely to be valuable to that organisation and can really benefit other people. You may have a skill that you would like to share with others and that would be useful to a charity or voluntary organisation.
Carers often give up work to care but may want to return to the workplace in the future. You may feel that your skills are outdated and you have lost confidence. Volunteering is a way of building up skills and confidence.
As a carer you may never have had the chance to work; volunteering can give you valuable work experience and help you to build up your skills. Some carers are anxious about being able to maintain a working routine and volunteering is a good way of testing how it can work alongside caring.
You can usually volunteer and claim benefits without any problems as long as you still meet the criteria for the benefit you are claiming. If you are claiming Carers Allowance you will still need to care for 35 hours a week and if you claim any expenses you need to keep receipts in case the Carers Allowance unit wish to see them. Those claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit still need to meet the job seeking requirements as well as volunteering. Citizens Advice gives more information on how volunteering affects your benefits.
There are all kinds of different volunteering roles locally. You may want to do something where you can use skills and experience that you have gained through caring or you may want to do something completely different.
To look for local volunteering opportunities:
Carers Support Centre offer a supportive and friendly environment for our volunteers who receive full training and support. Any experience you have of caring will be valued and we understand the issues that carers face.
You may want to become involved in our community activity events which are organised by our friends group and raise funds for Carers Support Centre to enable us to support more carers.