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Volunteering – Past, Present & Purpose

Antarctica, Asia and Oceania. These are the 3 continents I have yet to volunteer in. 

I (Elliot) have just returned from Vienna, Austria, where I was working with ‘Phoenix – Training for Life’, the first Austrian organisation to provide in-prison sports programs aimed to equip individuals within the prison system with, not just the opportunity for physical activity, but, with guidance and mentorship post-release. This experience came to fruition through lasting friendships made via other voluntary experiences and most probably would not have occurred if it had not been for some of my previous volunteering roles. 

This blog aims to provide an overview of the voluntary experiences that have shaped Coach Ben and myself and our benefits of volunteering.

Elliot’s Background

Where most teenagers are introduced to voluntary work through their Duke of Edinburgh award, my personal experiences were rooted in childhood, as I often had to support my mum by looking after my older, autistic, brother. Although, at the time, I was not conscious of the long-term benefits that supporting my brother would provide, these experiences formed some foundational ethos within me, noticeably an interest and motivation for helping and supporting others.

During my early teenage years I was offered the opportunity to assist some local football clubs. However, it was not until I turned 17 when I was given the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone through a volunteering trip to Romania. This trip was eye-opening for me and has, since, acted as a catalyst for a further desire to volunteer abroad. Since then, I have volunteered in Peru, St Lucia, Ghana and Austria, as well as within the UK; a year does not feel complete without time abroad to combine work and travel. 

These voluntary experiences have shaped my interests and have provided me with much needed experience working within both grassroots and elite sport. However, despite the countless personal benefits I have gained from volunteering, the most rewarding outcome of these experiences is knowing that what is given in value makes a noticeable difference to the community. Witnessing the sporting and personal development of individuals is one of the key reasons why we do what we do. That stands for any volunteering I have undertaken and it also translates into our work at bmactive.

Ben’s Background

Volunteering in local organisations during my early twenties was my first proper exposure to sports coaching and work within the fitness industry.

A good friend of ours, James Hinton (Dolphin School PE Teacher), often takes on former students of his for voluntary work experience. He describes this as ‘building a work ethic’. In my opinion, voluntary work experience is a great way to figure out what motivates you. I was able to gain exposure to multiple industries and figure out what I enjoyed.

Although most placements may only be a small commitment, the rewards can be huge. Some of the lessons I learnt through voluntary work have helped me to build bmactive. Now I get to spend my working week in beautiful outdoor spaces – exercising and playing football!

Below, we have highlighted three reasons why we would highly recommend parents to encourage their children to volunteer in their mid- to late-teens.

  1. Volunteering shapes a sense of purpose
  2. Volunteering provides an opportunity to positively impact and affect the lives of others
  3. Volunteering equips individuals with skills and contacts capable of developing personal and occupational growth

Voluntary experiences have shaped who we are and what we do. If you are interested in potential opportunities for yourself or your children and would like further information on our personal experiences, please get in touch.

Keep moving. Stay happy. Thanks for reading.

Coach Elliot & Coach Ben.

References and Recommended Readings:

1. Happiness. Why is volunteering important? Here are 7 benefits it offers.

2. Indeed. Why volunteering is important in a personal and professional capacity.

3. Kay, T., & Bradley, S. (2009). Youth sport volunteering: developing social capital?. Sport, education and society, 14(1), 121-140.

Get in touch

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact.