Do you want to spend quality time together as a family? Why not volunteer to help others? Volunteering as a family can be very rewarding and at the same time give back to the community. It shows children first-hand how volunteering can make a difference and what it feels like to help others.
Our research shows that the biggest barrier to volunteering is lack of time, and parents everywhere know just how pressured a daily schedule can get.
Our research found that Australians aged from 35 to 44 are the least likely to volunteer due to that time pressure. If that’s you, you’re not alone. Why not involve the entire family in activities you’d like to do? It’s a great way to get around the time pressure problem. Combining family time and volunteering in one can be a win-win situation for parents, children, and the charity.
Families who volunteer report that they have better inter-generational relationships as a result. Stepping outside the normal routine can really energise relationships.
The Neyle family has just volunteered for the second time to help with the local City Mission’s Christmas dinner. Dad Andy and daughter Rosie served up roast vegetables to the hundreds of people in need, and mum Maree and daughter Claire were Santa’s helpers, giving out presents.
The family didn’t know what to expect first time around, but came home buzzing. “We really enjoyed it and talked about it for ages afterwards ,” says Maree. It also helped the girls, who are in their early 20s, really understand how tough life is for some people. At their second City Mission Christmas, the Neyle family also brought one of their daughter’s friends along to help.
We know that every family is different. Your family might want to volunteer for a conservation project at a wildlife sanctuary, for a community event, or even with disadvantaged children, families, and older people. Or you might prefer one-off events such as a fun run, assisting at a Christmas dinner, or a door-to-door appeal. Take a note from the Neyles and involve everyone in the decision making process.
Some charities actively seek out families. For example families often volunteer for St John. They can be found providing first aid services at events in various communities. Ronald McDonald House is another organisation that offers family volunteering opportunities, such as running a Bingo or Quiz Night, or helping out at a Cook Night.
If your spare time is sporadic, look out for one-off working bee days in your community. You might even be able to do your volunteering at home with something as simple as stuffing envelopes. Or it could be at a community event such as helping out at a school fundraiser.
Another option is to take a volunteering holiday overseas and work on a development project. There are travel agencies that specialise in this type of holiday and they know how to satisfy a variety of needs and desires.