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Volunteering shouldn't be this hard, surely?

(93 Posts)
Loobs Mon 27-Nov-23 10:13:34

I am retired and often bored senseless. My husband and I do travel when we can but courtesy of Brexit cannot do as much as we did. I applied to be a volunteer, through a new agency in my area dealing with NHS placements, almost a year ago and so far have done exactly 16 hours in total!! I have tried applying directly to my local hospital but they require a firm weekly commitment and will only pay basic travel up to 10 miles (I live 28 miles away). I do occasional invigilating at my local school (paid work) but would prefer to not undertake a paid role as I get wacked for tax. So, any ideas on the sort of volunteering I could do, I would happily do a couple of days a week but would require flexibility - maybe that is the problem - I would love to phone up at the end of the month and offer several random days the following month if you see what I mean.

Germanshepherdsmum Mon 27-Nov-23 10:27:29

I would imagine that your requirement for flexibility is a problem - it means you can’t be relied on.

midgey Mon 27-Nov-23 10:30:01

I think that is your problem, most organisations need to plan and your offer of occasional odd days just won’t work for them. I do remember when I was involved with a charity having to say no thanks to some volunteers. I was extremely unpopular but the object of the exercise is for volunteers to help not the other way round!

kittylester Mon 27-Nov-23 10:32:52

DH does volunteer driving for RVS taking people to hospital for radiotherapy. He is asked for his availability in the previous week.

Though, I suspect most volunteering opportunities require regular commitment. I have to commit to 6 weeks at a time for my role.

toscalily Mon 27-Nov-23 10:36:25

Even if you were to offer a few days a month it would require a degree of commitment and regularity, rota's need to be drawn up, other people considered. It would seem you want too much flexibility which would not really work in practice.

pascal30 Mon 27-Nov-23 10:41:39

I volunteer a a big local concert and events venue. We have to do 2 events per month minimum and get sent a list of all the events and availablity so we can choose when we wish to work, a month in advance. This sort of thing might work well.. I get to see some amazing events and often get free tickets..

B9exchange Mon 27-Nov-23 10:43:35

Is there are local Good Neighbours Scheme, driving people to and from hospital, shopping, etc? You would be offered jobs and up to you whether you accept them. If you can't drive, you could always offer to take on the duty officer role and accept requests and ring others.

I agree the local NHS volunteer scheme didn't lead to anything for me. I was hoping it might lead to paid employment, since even with tax you still keep 80% and I really could use some extra income, but having been messed about for seven months, after three interviews and two promises of starting soon, they have finally decided they do not have the finance to take me on. I have a suspicion my age might have come into it, they admitted I had vast esperience! sad

You could try exploring

Loobs Mon 27-Nov-23 10:43:36

Yes, I thought that might be the problem. It seems a shame but understandable. With the invigilating I do it works well as they know I don't want to be on any rota but also know that they can phone me either the day before or even on the day (if they have been let down or someone is sick) and I will always fill in if around. I had hoped I might find something like that? Heyho, back to the drawing board.

Loobs Mon 27-Nov-23 10:46:32

B9exchange I was quite involved locally in the covid vaccination programme (admin) and was, in fact, offered a paid role after a few weeks - I was 64? Hopefully it's not your age, that would be so unfair.

Loobs Mon 27-Nov-23 10:49:18

pascal30 That sounds excellent but I live 'out in the sticks' with regards to that type of work - at least to a certain extent - this would not be practical - a shame because it must be amazing to get free tickets lol.

RosiesMaw Mon 27-Nov-23 10:49:39

I would love to live near enough one of the major theatres and would happily volunteer as an usher/programme seller at the theatre, opera or ballet. Or the proms - I once asked the usher if she stayed to listen to the concert and she sort of shrugged and said it depended on the piece! 😵‍💫

Witzend Mon 27-Nov-23 10:49:45

Being unable to commit to regular days is why I don’t volunteer any more, though I’ve done so in the past. Dd1 has to go away for work fairly often, sometimes for as much 10 days, so I like to go and help SiL (60 miles away) who works FT, with 3 young children, 4 cats and chickens. 😱

M0nica Mon 27-Nov-23 10:50:11

I understand your problem, I also couldn't commit to a regular day when I frst retired.

Then I found a charity that visited older people at home dealing with benefits claims, among other things. It wasideal. I would take on cliients as and when I had time and arrange to visit them at home. Unfotunately this schem ran out of funding and was stopped.

I also volunteered with a charity that maintained redundant churches. Again I had a group of churches I visited regularly, but when it suited me, emptying collection boxes, and generally keeping an eye on them, as well as help with fund raising events.

I think you need to look around for off beat opportunities, but I agree most charities need volunteers to commit to a regular time table, which if you cannot do it, you cannot do it.

biglouis Mon 27-Nov-23 10:52:09

My experience of volunteering has been to sit on various committees in housing associations and as a student rep in uni. A different kind of volunteering but still serving the community. The posters upthread are correct. If people do not turn up when expected (say for a committee) there may not be a quorum and then the event has to be re-scheduled. This is to the annoyance and inconvenience of those who do attend.

If you have difficulty with formal volunteering opportunities for an organization why not start up some new hobby or interest? Or volunteer informally in your local community helping out with shopping or small errands for the less mobile?

Gardenersdelight Mon 27-Nov-23 10:59:15

Have you considered school readers charity
I've been volunteering since May and though they want a degree of commitment I've had no issues if I say sorry can't come next week

annsixty Mon 27-Nov-23 11:01:17

When my H first retired we did two voluntary projects.
One was with disabled children which was a regular commitment and one was driving people to hospital , dental, podiatrist appointments etc.
We could do that when we were able.
If we couldn't do a certain day we could say but we are free tomorrow.
That was ideal.
The other was more of a commitment as we could never let the parents, who desperately needed a break, down.

littleflo Mon 27-Nov-23 11:02:48

Our food bank takes on casual volunteers. Most do odd days and just let the scheduler know when they cannot do a shift.

aonk Mon 27-Nov-23 11:24:08

I have a friend with the same problem. She now volunteers for a charity which organises transport to hospital appointments etc. Apparently you can block off the days you’re busy on the website and also choose days and times when you’re available. I’m afraid I don’t have any more details. My friend lives quite far from me but I think this service is quite widespread.

BlueBelle Mon 27-Nov-23 11:29:59

I volunteer at a shop my daughter volunteers at the local community theatre and one of my grandaughters at uni at a food bank but all require regular availability
I think that’s your problem
What about helping people who can’t read and write that would probably be more at your time offered

LOUISA1523 Mon 27-Nov-23 12:26:36

I volunteer as an oxfam steward at festivals during summer months....... just sign up as per your availability or interest .....its generally 4 or 5 days each do 2 or 3 shifts ( 8 hours) then your time is your own....some of the smaller festivals are lovely .

PamelaJ1 Mon 27-Nov-23 12:37:55

Wherever you live there will be community events.
In a village it might be the village hall, church, clubs. Offer to help when they do a bit of fund raising. I live in a village and we had a concert at the weekend. I could have done with a bit more help but have a small team that step up if they can. We would also welcome more help at out at our coffee and cake afternoons.
There is always the danger of getting too involved but if you go in with your eyes open then that is up to you.

sodapop Mon 27-Nov-23 12:41:00

I do the rota for volunteers at the small library I help to run. I email the volunteers at the end of each month for their availability the following month. They are free to do as many or as few shifts as they want. Something like this would suit you Loobs

Theexwife Mon 27-Nov-23 12:52:36

You could volunteer at residential homes. I used to go in to chat to those that did not have visitors, I would phone at the beginning of the week to say when I was coming in but it didn’t really matter as the residents were not told before hand that someone was coming.

Siope Mon 27-Nov-23 13:14:00

Organisations that I know have flexible and/or adhoc volunteering opportunities;

English Heritage
National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland
Canal and River Trust
Citizens Advice Bureaux

Gin Mon 27-Nov-23 13:25:35

Most charities need a certain amount of commitment. I have had the often difficult task of doing the monthly rota for two charities and as Sodapop said, you have to ask for the following month’s availability, always expecting retired volunteers to often go away or not be available. We ask for people to do regular slots but none do it every week/month and it is not expected that you will give 52 weeks a year commitment, you Just let them know in advance when you are not available.