I have a guest post! How very modern!
Simon works to promote and develop volunteering, and also volunteers with his kids: from planting, to more recently setting up fundraising support network Annabel’s Angels in his wife’s memory. He’s writing here about what he gets up to with his oldest son and what about it works.
“We first started volunteering together at the age of five, bulb planting at our local park. He enjoyed it, he could see the difference he was making, it was fun and he was doing an activity with his Dad. Six months later he saw the bulbs transform to flowers and this gave him a sense of pride knowing it was partly down to him.
At the age of six, he took part in a fundraising weekender for Teenage Cancer Trust with me.
The trust had secured a business partnership with Argos; working in a volunteer centre I knew they were having difficulties filling the Sunday shift. So me and my son stepped in, complete with silly 70s afro wigs. Again, as with the bulb planting, it was a fun activity. We got to dress up, had an opportunity to learn more about the charity and the issues, and Will explored the inner workings of the big Argos superstore afterwards. Great fun.
And of course, the Annabel’s Angels stuff gets bigger and bigger. Both my boys play an active part in this. From designing the logo to handing out leaflets, climbing mountains and selling items to raise funds etc. They’re happy to be involved.
So, what is it about all these different things that works? I can put it down to three things:
Make it tangible – children and adults need to do something that makes a visible difference. Whether collecting cash, bulb planting, designing a logo or helping older people to use a Wii in a care home, they need to be given the opportunity to do something tangible, a chance for them to make their mark.
Make it fun – be silly where appropriate. Have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously. Wear silly hats, splash about in the mud, make it enjoyable and fun.
Introduce a sense of learning – don’t make it too heavy but try to ensure they learn something. This could be a cutting/planting technique, a quiz about teenage cancer trust, a chance to use some new design software to make a corporate logo etc. Help them to reflect on their learning.”
Thank you Simon! Really exciting to be sharing what works for others and I’ll be looking to incorporate more 70’s wigs into all my volunteering in future.