Have you ever considered volunteering? From schools, to youth clubs, to charitable organisations, plenty of voluntary opportunities present itself within the community. Although it is definitely an act of good will and obviously morally rewarding, it does beg the question, what is really in it for me? Why work for free when I could be receiving pay somewhere else?

With that in mind, I interviewed two teen volunteers who currently work in a local Cancer research Charity Shop in Bexleyheath. Both Matthew Chant and Rhiann Albon take on the reasons, motives and benefits of their choice to become a volunteer.

For youths that want to progress onto university in particular, volunteering can be especially advantageous. Universities definitely look at grades when deciding whether to admit an applicant to a particular course, but with the rising number of people applying to higher education, other personal qualities and relevant experience is becoming increasingly important. It is qualities such as cooperation, adaptability, motivation and commitment that being a volunteer can help portray, and so for many can help further the chances of admittance. As Matthew Chant put it, his voluntary work with Cancer Research “Is highly likely to strengthen my UCAS application when I apply to university”.

Voluntary work is also highly respected by employers. If progressing to university does not appeal to you and you perhaps instead want to take on an apprenticeship or paid work, having volunteered and gaining some form of work experience is likely to boost your employability. Who knows, voluntary experience could be the difference between you getting accepted for a job or placement over a closely matched applicant!

As well as business and academic benefits, Rhiann Albon also expresses that “I have gained other rewards, such as making new friends and experience in the working world”.

Overall, what is in it for me? Other than a great way to meet new people and become more involved in community life, volunteering is a doorway to many future opportunities and beneficial to those wanting to progress their career or education. In Rhiann’s words, “I’d strongly suggest other people my age try to do volunteering work, as it is very fun and it will appeal to potential future employers”.

Lucy O'Brien - Erith School