Becoming a trustee has a two-way benefit

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Volunteering...By Sue Palmer from the Volunteer Centre at Bossard House, West Street, Leighton Buzzard:

Trustees are the people in charge of a charity. They play a vital role, volunteering their time and making decisions about the charity’s activities, finances and plans for the future.

To run effectively, a board needs a diverse mix of ages, backgrounds, and experience; the student with a flair for social media, the retiree with financial experience and the mother with a passion for a cause are all trustees in the making. Yet people shy away from being trustees because they don’t know what it involves, and the charity sector can seem daunting.

Almost half the charities across the UK are likely to have a vacancy on their board at any time. That’s where Trustees’ Week comes in. Now in its fifth year, the 2014 campaign runs from November 10 to 16 and aims to showcase the essential work trustees do. People often become trustees to ‘give something back’, but there is a two-way benefit. Charities benefit from the range of expertise and viewpoints their trustees bring, and trustees have the chance to develop skills, gain an insight into the work and governance of a charity, and have a chance to make a lasting difference to a cause they care about. It usually fits easily around other commitments too.

There are about a million trustees in position, so why not join them? For more details, visit www.trusteesweek.org.uk or follow @trusteesweek

Of course if the trustee option isn’t for you, other volunteering might be. A recent survey said that people who volunteer have lower rates of depression, live more fulfilled lives and have greater self-esteem.

For those who are unemployed or looking for a new career, volunteering has additional benefits; it provides a chance to try something new, gain skills and experience, increase confidence and get something onto a CV to impress potential employers.

We are pleased to be able to say that a number of those who have volunteered via the Volunteer Centre over the past two years are now in paid work, including in retail, schools, administration and factory/warehouse roles. Others feel that they have gained in terms of confidence and experience and are now much more likely to find work.

Voluntary and Community Action also supports local unemployed people in other ways, including running free courses in Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable and Houghton Regis to help people to identify their goals, improve their confidence and learn how to sell themselves to a potential employer. We also run Work Clubs in local locations to provide individual support.

If you are interested in further information on volunteering or on accessing our free courses or employment support give Volunteer Centre Central Bedfordshire a call.

Based in Leighton Buzzard town centre (near the multi-storey car park) an advisor will be happy to meet with you and can offer free advice on what might suit you.

Tel: 01525 850559, week days 9.30am – 3.00pm or email volunteer@action-centralbeds.org.uk. You can also discover more about other opportunities in your area by taking a look at www.do-it.org.uk, simply by entering your interests and postcode.