Claire Byrne, Volunteer & Awardee Programme Development Officer at Gaisce – The President’s Award, tells us how volunteering allows you to use your skills, step outside your comfort zone and have fun!
Like everyone, I wish I had more hours in the day. More hours for work, more hours to practice yoga or get out for a run and more hours to volunteer for organisations I feel passionate about. Unfortunately my life doesn’t allow me to volunteer with organisations that need that regular commitment or that weekly face to face support. After years of struggling to find the right volunteering opportunity to suit my lifestyle, interests and skills I’ve finally found my ‘volunteering rhythm’.
My background is in the not for profit sector, with a specific focus on donor management, volunteer management and event management. I’m passionate about working with people and get such a buzz out of organising and running an event. It felt like a natural fit to look into event volunteering opportunities which didn’t require massive time commitments. Once I started looking, I was overwhelmed by the amount of choice. For someone who typically organises and manages events, I realised I could use my skills and experience but could also learn something new and step outside my comfort zone. Since 2014 I’ve volunteered for the Darklight festival, the Giro d’Italia Big Start, the Web Summit, Fringe Festival, InspireFest, The Moth Story Slam and the Festival of Curiosity. My roles have varied from being a runner to a team leader to working with children on science projects to creating digital content – all of which were completely new roles for me.
By applying my practical experience in event management, but taking on new roles, I learned so much. I have left each volunteering role with more experience of the events industry, customer service hints and tips, how to keep teams motivated and I’ve also stepped outside my comfort zone, taking on roles I wouldn’t normally have access to in my job. Needless to say I had a lot of fun, met some insanely talented and hardworking individuals and felt like I was giving something back to the arts & culture scene of Ireland, which I love so much.
If you’re thinking about using your skills and helping out a charity then I can’t recommend it enough. Check out www.volunteer.ie for more information, talk to other volunteers or sign up for an information session – there are so many opportunities out there!