We can be heroes: Volunteer opportunities that will help you shine

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We can be heroes: Volunteer opportunities that will help you shine

If you are anything like me, you will, occasionally, have days when you consider what it would be like to be the best version of youself. You might feel like testing your courage, your compassion, your perseverance, but regardless of what qualities you wish to hone, there will be an opportunity for you across the wide range of social action opportunities supported by Nesta.

1. Quality: Courage

Do you wish you had your own version of a bat signal or spidey senses, to give you immediate knowledge of an emergency in your area? Well, look no further.

Opportunity: GoodSAM works with ambulance and emergency services to enable qualified bystanders to provide life saving care in emergencies.  If a trained volunteer reaches someone in cardiac arrest ahead of an ambulance, their chances of survival double. GoodSAM volunteers have already saved lives. If you are a first aider then you can register as a GoodSAM responder.

2. Quality: Perseverance

Fans of Angela Duckworth, the academic, psychologist and author, will already know about the connections between grit and success. The Give More Get More fund is supporting five organisation to offer intensive volunteering opportunities for people aged 50 and over; people moving into retirement, for example, who want to retain a sense of purpose, giving more of their time over a longer period, to create sustainable impact.

Opportunity: King’s College Hospital is training volunteers to support patients in A&E from their first contact to discharge, to ensure that the patient is looked after and has a continuity of support and reassurance. Likewise, at Beanstalk, volunteers give one-to-one literacy lessons to children who have fallen behind in primary school, Consistency - and perserverance - in this case, are key.

3. Quality: Objectivity

Do you strive for a world where evidence trumps opinion, where data ought to lead decision making? Well, there’s a raft of emerging data donation opportunities to help build the scientific evidence base.  

Opportunity: uMotif enables researchers to capture data from patients and non patients through smart phones and devices to inform modern research, and the Personal Genome Project enables people to donate genome and health data to help enable scientific advances.    

 Smart Works helps female job seekers back into the workplace

4. Quality: Confidence

If you want to channel your inner Wonder Woman and help others to feel empowered to live the lives they want, then you can do more than simply set up your own YouTube channel, you can help others in the real world.

Opportunity: Smart Works provides free clothes and interview training to women who may otherwise be struggling to find work, or lack confidence. Volunteers can lend their support in a number of ways to match their own skills, including as a dessing volunteer, an interview volunteer or as an administration volunteer.

5. Quality: Compassion

Sometimes the biggest heroes are those with the biggest hearts. Social action inherently taps into the desire to give back, but sometimes people want to have a more personal connection to those they help.  

Opportunity: The Hearts Milk Bank aims to ensure that donating breast milk becomes as widely recognised as donating blood. To achieve this, they are creating an app, the Milk Donor App, which will help facilitate the collection of donor milk for premature and sick babies where maternal milk is not available. While the app isn't yet available, women can still participate by filling in an online form.

6. Quality: Intelligence 

If you admire Bill Gates for turning his brain power to helping others, then perhaps you’d also like the opportunity to use your brain power to do the same.

Opportunity: The Access Project pairs high calibre graduates with motivated students from disadvantaged backgrounds so their chances of entering the top Russell Group universities are improved. And, as of 2017, the project works with 21 schools and more than 900 students across London and the West Midlands.


Lydia Ragoonanan

Lydia Ragoonanan

Lydia Ragoonanan

Senior Programme Manager

Lydia was a Senior Programme Manager within Nesta's Innovation Lab.  She developed and managed a range of practical innovation programmes.She worked on a range of social action funds, …

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