It can be especially disheartening at Christmas time if you have not yet succeeded to secure a job and are still actively searching. Being unemployed at this time of year can bring additional financial worries due to the pressures to spend money on gifts for family and friends and to provide lavish and rich food - much of which ends up in the bin. Consumerism has placed huge pressures on individuals and families to live up to something that for many just isn't realistic or even possible.
If you are struggling at this time of year, embracing the spirit of Christmas can be difficult. However, the tradition of giving is not always financial as many would have you believe. Giving can be selflessly giving of your time to others and more importantly and often neglected, is the gift of giving to yourself. Volunteering can incorporate the two - read on!
There are numerous charities in the UK that rely on volunteers to keep them going and Christmas is an especially busy time for many of them. The homeless, the vulnerable, the lonely and the elderly are still in need at Christmas and volunteers work tirelessly throughout the festive season to make a difference. Volunteers can provide all manner of help for those who can find Christmas one of the toughest times to navigate through. Most of the charity websites will have information about how you can help and how to contact them. Working alongside like minded people, you will immediately feel part of a friendly and supportive community who are there because they want to help others. Volunteering is immensely rewarding and many volunteers carry on volunteering and return year after year. Whatever your own circumstances, it can be an extremely humbling experience to be among those who are broken or desperate. It can act as a reminder that any one of us can find ourselves in a similar position and never to judge.
Volunteering also gives you the chance to showcase your skills and put them to use whether this is a learned skill such as cooking or hairdressing or even just empathising and talking with people. Everyone has a skill whether you realise it or not yet. Volunteering can give you valuable experience not only in whatever specific task you have been given but it will give you experience in liaising with others, assisting with tasks, delegating, identifying needs, reporting to those in charge, understanding instructions to carry out orders and to work as part of a team or using your own initiative. Often when you are out of work, your confidence and passion for life is diminished but volunteering acts as a catalyst for confidence building, self worth and for gaining a deeper understanding of both yourself and others.
Filling in the gaps between jobs can be difficult but when you incorporate your volunteering into your CV, you are demonstrating to prospective employers that you have a proactive approach towards contributing to society which so often aligns with many company’s values. In addition to this, you will also have another potential reference which can increase your chances of securing a job.
Of course, volunteering isn’t just for Christmas. Help is needed all year round but while you are looking for a job, it is a fantastic way to gain new skills and experiences, make new friends and give you a real sense of accomplishment while helping others.