Regardless of who we are, what we do, where we come from and what we own, the one thing we all possess is time.
I think it’s safe to say that most of us are a little selfish with our time – myself included. We use our time for ourselves; our first thought in allocating our time is ourself. But what about deciding to allocate your time to someone else? Why not decide, this year, to make someone or something else your priority and allocate some of your time differently?
I really believe volunteering and charity work is vitally important and that everyone should spare some of their time to help others.
It is so easy to do something charitable. I’m not talking about the big stuff – you know, those incredible people who run marathons to raise money or are wealthy enough to be classed as ‘philanthropists’. I’m talking about the little things that we can all do but which make a big difference to someone else.
I hate needles and I hate having blood taken. If I think about it in detail, I get light-headed and nauseous. That isn’t a good enough excuse not to do it though. To donate blood, you only have to give up 45 minutes of your time every 3 months to help save lives. I think that might need repeating…IT HELPS SAVE LIVES.
You don’t need that blood and you can definitely afford to relinquish 45 minutes out of the 1296000-ish minutes you have in a 3-month period, so there is no good reason (unless you’re on the restriction list from the donor service) why you shouldn’t be doing this. I’m not going to sugar-coat it, it isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world but it also isn’t horrific. You get a hot drink and yummy biscuits when you’re done and I recently received a certificate and badge because I’d reached my 10th donation! The UK blood donation service has also started to send you a text message to let you know which hospital your donation has gone too which I think is really wonderful.
Please, if you don’t already donate blood, click here now and sign up (for UK). If you aren’t in the UK, please find your local blood donation service and get involved.
Help at a shelter
A friend recently told me that she gives time on a weekend to help at a local shelter. On a Saturday, food at its sell-by date is collected from local supermarkets and then, on Sundays, volunteers get together, decide what meals can be made and then cook lunch for homeless people who attend the shelter. If this doesn’t warm you heart then I don’t know what will.
Services like this will always be on the lookout for extra help so have a look online for shelters in your local area and get in touch to see how you can get involved.
Support a charity
There are charities out there covering such a diverse range of issues and they will always welcome support. Whether it’s a clean out of your cupboards to donate clothes, books and other items you don’t need, giving up a few hours to volunteer in a charity shop, or getting your workmates involved in a bake sale to fundraise.
As much as charities need money, they also need volunteers to give their time. Think about the skills you have and make time to use them for a charitable cause.
I know I wrote a few months’ ago about my own experiences of taking a break from coaching but please don’t let that deter you. There are still a bucket-load of reasons why I’ve given a lot of hours over 12 years as a volunteer to the game of rugby.
Giving time to encourage, support and teach people to be active, to develop positive, healthy attitudes and to learn valuable life skills is priceless. I have gained so much from being a coach and honestly would recommend it to anyone who has a keen interest in sport. Being a coach has led to other amazing opportunities within rugby as well and for that I will be eternally grateful.
If coaching doesn’t sound like your thing though then that’s ok. Local community sports clubs need volunteers with every skill-set you could imagine: people who will man the gate on game day, arrange fixtures, help in the kitchen, run the kit shop, be team managers, and even sit on the committee. Nearly all community-level clubs are run 100% by volunteers and they always need extra help.
Find your local clubs through the national governing body websites (in the UK that includes the FA, England Rugby, England Hockey, England Netball, British Swimming, etc).
Selfless acts aren’t truly selfless – they make you feel warm and fuzzy and you often get back so much more than you imagined you would. Surely, those are just more reasons to give your time to good causes though. So, make 2017 the year you give your time for someone or something else and let me know what awesome things you get up to!