Self worth (and charity volunteering)

I started volunteering at my local Oxfam bookshop purely by accident, or maybe it was fate.

After many changes in my life the last year I found myself living a a city for the first time and single for the first time in many years. I was a bit like a fish very much out of water. I have also been unemployed for nearly two years and up until June this year I felt pretty much on the scrap heap!

At my employment advisers suggestion about getting some self worth back into my life as I was getting pretty depressed (another time perhaps), I started looking into any volunteering opportunities in my local area. To start with I volunteered a few hours a week at my local Arthritis Research Charity shop. Finally I felt as if I had something in my life worth doing. It was great to meet some new people, have a laugh and generally get me out of the day to day rut I had up till then called life.

A new found friend (a neighbour) found out that I was quite keen to volunteer and mentioned that he volunteered at a local Oxfam Bookshop. Now I didn’t even know that Oxfam had specialist shops and as quite an avid reader I was very keen to find out more. At his suggestion I visited the shop and had a chat with the wonderful woman that is manager there. We hit it off straight away and I found myself in the shop the rest of the day, starting to learn the routine. Before I knew where I was I was volunteering three days a week!

The thing I’ve found with volunteering is not what you might expect though. Oh sure it’s a fantastic feeling when you know that you are giving something that costs nothing, time, especially when you have so much of it to give. It’s also a pretty fantastic feeling when you realise that these few hours out of your week is helping so many of the worlds poor and underprivileged. For me though it has given me something I never expected, a feeling of self worth. Just the feelings of being valued, trusted as a team leader to do the right thing. The chance to meet normal, everyday people, talk about life’s irrelevancies and generally feel like a normal, everyday person.

I would advise anyone that is unemployed, especially if you’ve started to feel a bit useless, to find a local charity, whether it be a shop or other community charity and get volunteering! You’ll be helping yourself just as much as you will be helping others.

So I’d like to thank Oxfam for helping me find my path in life once again as much as it helps the worlds poorest in finding theirs.

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