Monday, 10 February 2014

Dogs Trust Loughborough: Volunteering

Centre Manager Nikki Smith talks volunteering - and how you can get involved!

I started volunteering when I just 15 years old.  I still have the school report saying how much I loved my 2 week placement at the RSPCA Centre in Coventry.  Despite growing up with dogs and budgies, I’d never thought about working with animals until my Mum mentioned it.  I’d been turned down to shadow at the local newspaper so my plans to become a journalist had stalled and I hadn’t a clue what to do next.

I can honestly say those 2 week with animals changed my life!  I carried on volunteering for another 7 months and it was there I discovered there were such things as academic course on animal welfare and I immediately decided I was no longer doing A levels! 
The following September I headed off to Agricultural college to begin my Animal Care diploma which subsequently became the start of my career in animal welfare.

20 years later and I’m volunteering again.  This time its wild birds!  I’ve been a twitcher for as long as I can remember so decided to take my hobby one step further and help in the visitor centre at Rutland Water Nature Reserve.  I started in September and 4 months on I’m loving it.  

Here at the centre we offer 11 different volunteer roles and a college work placement scheme.  In 2013 our volunteers donated 4236 hours of their own time to help the 100+ dogs we have in our care.  That’s the equivalent of having an additional 2 full time members a staff every week for the whole year.
Yet volunteers do more than just give their time, they spread the word of the centre which is invaluable to an organisation like ours.  Word of mouth is the best recommendation there is and we have a large team of volunteers in our local community talking about our centre – it doesn’t get any better than that!

All this got me thinking about the number of people volunteering across the UK and I discovered that 44% of adults volunteered formally (formal volunteering is volunteering for groups, clubs or organisations) at least once a year.  29% volunteered at least once a month.  These 2012-2013 statistics show an increase of 5% and 4% respectively from the 2010-2011 survey.  I was pleasantly surprised by these statistics collated by the Institute of Volunteer Research which is part of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. 

So for 2014 we’ve decide to extend our inspiration volunteering programme to small teams.  We’re looking for local businesses or groups who are up for a challenge to come and help us complete various on site environmental enrichment projects.  Each project is designed to maximise our outdoor areas and enrich the dogs during their stay. 
Full details of the range of projects available can be found here.

For up to date information on current volunteer vacancies please visit the Loughborough page of the website.

Maybe you can make 2014 the year even more of us decide to make a difference and start volunteering.  We cant wait to hear from you!

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