Volunteering: the spice of life

10 June 2022
Acuity digital

The first week of June was Volunteers’ Week, which ushers in the ‘#MonthOfCommunity’. Kathy Oxtoby reports on the personal and professional rewards that volunteering can bring.

In 2018, when Jane Veys MCOptom, an optometrist based in Berkshire, retired from corporate life after more than 25 years, she was looking for new and varied experiences.

As well as developing a portfolio career, including the Clinical Editor’s role for Acuity, Jane volunteers for a range of charities, such as Berkshire Vision, which supports the visually impaired. “I volunteer because I want to give something back to society. Volunteering adds to the very spice of life. And then there’s the variety and diversity of the people I meet – I am humbled by their experiences,” she says.

Jane is one of the millions of people who regularly share their skills and goodwill to help others. This June, their contribution is being celebrated with the 38th annual Volunteers' Week and #MonthOfCommunity, which brings together organisations with a range of events to encourage people to join in with activities happening in their local communities (see Resources below).

Most people have formally volunteered at some point in their lives (National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), 2021). Before the pandemic, 37% of the UK population volunteered on a formal basis at least once a year, while 53% volunteered informally on a regular basis. During 2020/21, the pandemic saw formal volunteering at least once a year drop by a fifth (20%) compared with 2019/20 levels; however, this has started to recover with the easing of restrictions (NCVO, 2021).

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