Volunteering can be a hugely valuable and rewarding experience for the volunteers and the communities they support and there are a wealth of opportunities available in Calderdale.
The charity Volunteering Matters report the following benefits for volunteers:
- People who engage in activities for the benefit of others, report a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.
- Health benefits relating to volunteering, include improved quality of life, improved ability to cope with ill health and improved self-esteem.
- Volunteering is an opportunity to learn new skills, and can boost employment prospects.
- Volunteering can help to heal mental ill-health and addiction.
And Action for Happiness list ten key ingredients for a happy and fulfilling life: giving, relating, exercising, awareness, trying out, direction, resilience, emotions, acceptance and meaning. Volunteering can tick these boxes!
When is the right time to volunteer?
Many people wait until they retire to volunteer, others volunteer when called upon and some volunteer throughout their lives.
A labour force survey in America suggests volunteer rates are highest among 35 to 54 year olds (around 29%) and lowest among 20 to 24 year olds. Teenagers have relatively high rate of volunteering, possibly due to schemes aimed at young people.
But even if you have reached the age of 50 or older and never volunteered, it isn’t too late to start.
There are now more volunteering opportunities than ever before, and they are becoming easier to find due to the growth of information online and due to COVID-19 pandemic a greater appreciation of the benefits of volunteering to society.
National sources of volunteering
A number of national websites advertise volunteering opportunities:
Indeed – a worldwide job site has simplified job hunting and recruitment and advertises voluntary work as well as paid work – it’s very easy to set up an alert based on your area and interests and upload a CV.
Do-it – a website dedicated to matching volunteers with volunteering opportunities. Major charities advertise on the site and you can set up a postcode based search for opportunities.
Volunteering Matters – charity with nearly sixty years of experience in facilitating volunteering programmes.
The NCVO has a network of accredited Volunteer Centres that span the country providing support and expertise within the local community, to potential volunteers, existing volunteers and organisations that involve volunteers.
Volunteer Centres are often a good place to start looking for volunteering opportunities in the local area. They can find out what you’re interested in doing, and try to match you with a suitable volunteering role with a local charity or voluntary organisation.
Voluntary Alliance Calderdale (VAC)
VAC helps support and strengthen local charities in Calderdale to the benefit of the local community.
They are not an official Volunteer Centre but provide all the same services as one. They have lots of opportunities on our website for people who want to volunteer and through their Volunteer Matching Service, can offer 1-2-1 appointments to people to chat about what they want to do and help them find the right place for their skills and experience. From Spring 2023 they will be running drop-in’s around the borough (in Job Centres, Community Centres and Libraries) so that if people can’t easily come to us, we will be in their neck of the woods for a chat.
They offer support to anyone who is looking at getting into volunteering, whether it’s simply something to do in their spare time, or something to help them gain new skills, broaden their horizons, or seeking to reconnect with their community or make new friends.
.Halifax Opportunities Trust offer flexible opportunities for members of the public to volunteer including in children’s centres in Calderdale and the Outback Garden at King Cross. The Employment Support team are keen to meet people who would like to volunteer as work coaches at job clubs and advisers for people who are self-employed or looking to start their own business. They deliver ESOL programmes (English as a Second Language) and look for positive role models to help.
Volunteering as a trustee is a great way to use skills learned while in employment to benefit the running of a charity or community group. A number of local organisations are on the look-out for Trustees. Find out more.
Volunteering with older people
Re-engage is a national charity dedicated to ending loneliness and social isolation. Their activity groups bring people over 75 together in local communities across West Yorkshire to help reduce loneliness, social isolation and improve physical wellbeing. They are looking for volunteers to help run or set up and coordinate activity groups in Calderdale as well as drivers.
The Staying Well Hub (part of Halifax Opportunities Trust) recruit telephone befrienders from time-to-time. The aim of telephone befriending is to reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness in older people. Volunteers are required to ring an older person to check on them and build a friendship.
Befrienders are carefully selected volunteers, who are trained to provide support and companionship to lonely, or emotionally distressed, people.
For more details call 01422 392767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees regularly recruit volunteers to help with a variety of roles. Examples include befriending older people (either by telephone or face-to-face – subject to Covid restrictions), digital buddies who help older people to use IT, assistants in Age UK’s charity shops and also help with fundraising and campaigning. They have a daycare centre in Halifax and a retail shop in Woolshops.
Do you have a passion for nature and green spaces?
There are lots of organisations in Calderdale who need your help to improve our local environment. Green Calderdale is a consortium between Calderdale Sustainability Forum and Calderdale Friends of the Earth. The website lists groups/organisations which need volunteers including Calderdale Countryside Service, the National Trust at Hardcastle Craggs and the Canal & River Trust.
Volunteering and Covid-19
There has been a lot of opportunities to volunteer during COVID-19 with an organisation or group and with many vulnerable people still shielding, you can also help informally in your local area by doing things like picking up shopping or medicines.
The Government has specific advice for people who are thinking of helping others through the pandemic. See local volunteering below for specific contacts.
Local charities that need more volunteers
Community Transport Calderdale need volunteer drivers.
Calderdale Talking Newspaper need people to help read articles from local newspapers.
Call 01422 257735 or Email: email@example.com
Calderdale Carer’s Wellbeing Service (part of Making Space) is the local charity for volunteer carers. Based in Rimani House in central Halifax they provide respite and support in the community for people who are caring for another person on an unpaid basis. Find out more
Happy Days UK aims to bring an end to homelessness across the UK and empower people to live independent and purposeful lives. They provide safe accommodation, routine and structure alongside volunteering and employability skills in a community setting to create sustainable change in peoples’ lives.
They have opportunities for volunteer mini bus drivers, gardeners, decorators, food collection drivers and free café assistants and new opportunities arise continually. If you have a specific skill or hobby that you would like to share, they can look into creating a volunteer role around it. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about volunteering opportunities.
Overgate Hospice need fundraising support most of all but also run local charity shops which may need new volunteers from time-to-time. https://www.overgatehospice.org.uk/get-involved/
British Heart Foundation – https://www.bhf.org.uk/how-you-can-help/volunteer
RSPCA in Halifax need people from time-to-time to foster pets, drive vans, make home visits and help in their charity shops: https://www.rspcahalifaxhuddersfieldbradford.org.uk/volunteer/
Halifax Society for the Blind – https://www.facebook.com/SightlossCalderdale/
Royal British Legion – https://branches.britishlegion.org.uk/branches/halifax-central/branch-information
Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve is run by volunteers. https://cromwellbottom.blogspot.com/
Calderdale Industrial Museum is run by a team of volunteers. https://calderdaleindustrial.co.uk/supporting-the-museum/
Rotary Clubs across Calderdale (Elland, Halifax, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge) – search on Facebook for contact details.
Primary Schools and after-school clubs need people to read with children.
Amateur sports clubs need committee members and volunteer coaches.
Churches need people to help run services, serve on committees and support parishioners.