“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.” – Marianne Williamson

Written by Maryam Gangat [1]

International Volunteer Day is celebrated on the 5th of December every year by volunteers from across the globe. Each year, a theme is selected and celebrated in the spirit of spreading awareness and acknowledging the volunteers who are role models within their communities. The theme for this year, 2022 is: Solidarity Through Volunteering. The theme for this year encourages volunteers to work together within their communities in order to find common solutions for the countless inequalities that people experience throughout the globe.

The United Nations (UN) have emphasised the importance of volunteerism by articulating that it is one of the most vital delivery mechanisms for global transformation, and ensuring a lasting impact with its ability to change people’s mindsets, attitudes, and behaviours. Here are some ways in which you can advocate, spread awareness, and promote volunteerism in your community:

  1. Get involved in volunteer work

Advocacy begins with you. The best way to promote volunteerism in your community and to encourage it in others, is to work towards spreading awareness by supporting your community in various ways. Supporting a worthy cause in your community today, helps build a better world for tomorrow. By volunteering to take care of the environment, lending a hand at underprivileged schools, and passing on valuable skills to the youth, you can help to create a better future and set an example for future generations.

  1. Donate to a volunteer organization

If you are unable to physically volunteer your time or if you have the financial means to do so, donating to a volunteer organisation enables you to help underprivileged communities move towards living healthier, more productive lives. By donating money and other items, organizations can provide their services to the larger community and donated items can be used by individuals in your community who are need.

  1. Share your experiences

When people see and hear about how much volunteerism impacts their communities, it encourages them to volunteer. By educating the public on issues of concern and showing them how the contributions of others have changed things for the better, people become inspired to come together to assist their communities. By sharing and reflecting on your experiences of volunteering, it cultivates gratitude and creates a sense of belonging among individuals in a community.

  1. Demonstrate Genuine Need

Demonstrating genuine need among your community motivates people to volunteer and become more involved. When you create volunteer opportunities or make people aware of the opportunities that already exist within your community, it creates awareness and encourages advocacy. Many organisations rely on volunteers for their time and skills so that they can provide additional services or programs for the larger community. When communities become involved in finding solutions together, they are more likely to be feasible in the long term as they are more inclusive and people-centric.

  1. Create Opportunities

People are constantly moving into and away from communities. This means that the needs of your community are constantly changing and evolving which creates numerous opportunities for volunteerism.  By creating opportunities for individuals to volunteer within communities, it encourages individuals searching for new connections to come together, it promotes community-building and encourages a healthy culture of collaboration, friendliness, and open communication. Creating opportunities for volunteerism motivates individuals and creates a desire among individuals to have a real and tangible impact on one’s community.

In celebration of this year’s theme: Solidarity Through Volunteering, the PsySSA Student Division encourages all students to share their volunteer experiences and express their solidarity on social media using the hashtag #solidaritythroughvolunteering and #IVD2022.

[1] The Author writes in their capacity as a member of the Student Division of PsySSA (Psychological Society of South Africa) and the chairperson of Research into Student Empowerment.

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