Thinking of taking up volunteering? It's one of the most rewarding and worthwhile experiences you could ever undertake, and Brighton is one of the best places to start. A forward-thinking, socially-aware city, Brighton offers all manner of volunteering options, with commitments ranging from a few hours a week to a long-term role. Here are just a few suggestions for what you could gift your time towards.
Volunteer at a festival or event
Brighton's events calendar is packed with things you could help out with. And since many of these festivals are temporary weekend excursions, there's only a short-term commitment required. If you're new to volunteering, this could be the ideal introduction.
The most obvious choice is the annual Brighton Festival, which takes place in the city every year around May. Organisers are always looking for volunteers to help in stewarding, marketing, planning, and learning. As well as excellent opportunities for CV-boosting and skills, there may also be the chance to see some of the artists and performers for free.
Volunteering with the elderly
Elderly people often suffer from immense loneliness and social isolation in later years. Whether rendered immobile from health conditions, having lost touch with family members, or simply left alone from being widowed, it's a truly unthinkable way to spend your twilight years, in a state of sadness and depression.
Volunteers help the elderly with gardening activities Photographer: EU Social www.flickr.com
Charities such as Contact the Elderly aim to alleviate these problems by organising volunteers to hold monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties with groups of over-75s who live alone. Volunteering in this way takes hardly any time or effort, yet makes an enormous impact on people's lives.
Volunteering with leaving prisoners
The Prince's Trust organises a mentorship programme for people aged 18-30 leaving prison, helping them in the transition from prison back to their community and society at large. Time spent in prison can be an overwhelming experience and it's vital for the journey back into the world to be a smooth one. Volunteers can offer support, guidance, encouragement and inspiration to young people over a sustained period of time and help them focus towards a career and a better life.
Helping former prisoners acquire those skills necessary to land and keep decent jobs. Photographer: Chattanooga Endeavors, Inc www.flickr.com
Organisations like YMCA are always looking for volunteers for its drop-in Youth Advice Centres. You don't have to be an expert in any field. You just need to be a careful and considerate listener who won't shirk from any sort of problem, and who can tactfully refer young people to a specialist worker or service. Young people are among the most vulnerable in any society, and the work of volunteers is invaluable in supporting those difficult years.