Changing face of volunteering

Volunteer Susie
Volunteer Susie

Knox has an army of great volunteers who make an enormous contribution to so many aspects of community life. But what do the volunteers of the future want from a volunteer program, and what can we do to attract and retain them?

For many long-term volunteers in Knox – particularly those in older demographics – volunteering is a way of giving back to the community. It’s an activity that allows them to participate in civic life. But lifestyles and values are changing, and so is volunteering.

Susie, now 20, was in Year 10 at a local high school when she volunteered to join Knox’s Youth Advisory Committee and contribute to Council decision-making and planning. Over the last four years she has deepened her understanding of community development, city planning and sustainability – and gained a lot of confidence along the way.

“I was really interested in the work Council did,” she says. “Joining the committee gave me a really good glimpse of that. I’ve also learned about the range of opportunities to get involved at Knox, and met some great, like-minded people.”

Like Susie, many young people may have different reasons for becoming volunteers. They may have pressures and commitments that change the way they are able to offer their help – they may work longer hours, they may not find traditional volunteer work interesting, or they may hope to acquire some work-specific skills through a volunteer program.

A survey conducted by Knox found that attracting volunteers under the age of 35 means providing a fun and friendly environment that offers the opportunity for them to develop their skills.

Susie explains that the diverse network of people she has met through volunteering have helped build her confidence and open her eyes to different perspectives.

“I’ve become more outspoken about my beliefs and opinions. Before I might just have agreed with the group but now I will speak up if I think there might be a different angle to share.”

In Knox, some of the causes dearest to our community are working with children, conservation and education, as well as working with animals. Many young people in particular are interested in activism and advocacy, and being able to make a difference.

For Susie, volunteering has been an opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and leave her mark on the community.

“Coming from a migrant background, volunteering is something I’m really passionate about – it’s important to give back to the community that has helped me, if I’m able to. You can make such an impact on other people’s lives.”

National Volunteer Week

Monday 18 May – Sunday 24 May 2020 is National Volunteer Week, and this year’s theme is “Changing Communities. Changing Lives”. Knox is lucky to benefit from the countless volunteers who contribute their time, their skills and their passion to supporting and improving our community.

While many are unable to do this valuable work at present due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we thank each of our volunteers for their invaluable contribution and look forward to working together again soon. Read more about Volunteering in Knox and check out a thank you message to Knox volunteers from Mayor Nicole Seymour below.

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