The ups and downs of volunteering
 
I have mixed feelings about volunteering. Over the years I have volunteered for community groups, school fundraisers and umpteen “organising” committees. I experienced the highs and lows.
I was happy to provide my skills free of charge, but mostly I did it out of a sense of duty. It wasn’t enjoyable or satisfying.
 
Later, I volunteered out of necessity, to further my career because I was unemployable; lacking the “appropriate experience”. This volunteering was just plain hard work. I gave my all, used my skills, and recommended new ideas – but received little feedback or acknowledgement in return.
 
Knowing my motive for volunteering up front, and being crystal clear about what I needed to get from the volunteer-seeking organisation, helped me to decide when to say ‘No, thank you.”
 
My all-time high in good fortune was volunteering for an NGO that made no distinction between its volunteers and paid staff. They invested in their volunteers with respect, generous training, care and appreciation of my giving.
 
Ethical and healthy volunteering must be a two-way street – equal value of give and take.
 
This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.
 
To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/