International Volunteer Day 2023

05 December 2023

On International Volunteer Day, we take the opportunity to celebrate and thank our people who dedicate their precious time and efforts volunteering for a diverse range of important causes.

Volunteering has so many benefits...but don't take our word for it!

Hear first hand from several Leonardo people who share their own personal experiences of volunteering and the benefits that it brings to them and those around them.

Volunteering Stories

Helping personal development

Making a difference

A sense of purpose

Doing something good

Making new friends

Bringing fun into your life

Benefitting mental health

A sense of community

Learning new skills

Charlie – Stress and Design Engineer (Transmissions), Yeovil

Volunteering helps personal development

I began volunteering in a frontline role to give me greater self-development opportunities and to make a positive change within the community.;

I am a Special Constable for Avon and Somerset Constabulary; a fully warranted police officer on a voluntary basis. I respond to 999 calls as part of a local response team and provide proactive policing within the area. This involves investigations into urgent and priority crimes and occurrences, with active participation across a wide range of frontline initiatives. It also involves regular training and requalification activities.

Being committed to a greater cause is very rewarding; being put into challenging positions where every day is different, whilst helping people within the community is really fulfilling.

Sally – Spares and Governance, Yeovil

Volunteering enables you to make a difference

I run ADHD Somerset and do voluntary work in the local community with families and children with ADHD. I am available to support anyone seeking a diagnosis for ADHD to contact me for signposting/support etc.

Learn more about the work Sally does to support children with ADHD and their families

Tom Nash – Campaign Manager, Edinburgh

Volunteering gives an additional sense of community purpose

When I left the military, there was a gap in my life but it was not easy to identify what that was. I get a lot of reward from helping people, so I joined a the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team (TVMRT). Being part of a structured team with a shared common goal almost immediately filled filled that gap.

I am on call 24/7 365 days a year. As part of the TVMRT, I respond (where able) to help search, treat and rescue people lost or injured in the Scottish hills and mountains, or those deemed high-risk individuals whose welfare is in jeopardy.

Until recently, I was also Team Leader of a specialist drone search and rescue volunteer team, Search & Rescue Aerial Association Scotland, but remain an active pilot. This layers an additional skillset on top of being a regular MRT member, and also helps utilise my flying and aviation experience from the RAF to the civilian voluntary sector.

Volunteering gives me an additional sense of community purpose; it develops me in leadership and teamwork in stressful and time-critical situations which, like the military, gives a real sense of teamwork and value.

Nerys – VP People, Basildon

Volunteering allows you to enjoy doing something good

I am a school governor which means we hold the Head Teacher and school to account in delivering first class education to our children.

We monitor school activities which could be hearing the children read, watching classroom and playground behaviour (always fascinating!), or talking to teachers about the curriculum. Most recently, we've been monitoring the wellbeing of pupils and teachers.

I enjoy the feeling of doing something good for the children at the school and supporting the teachers. I have learnt new skills along the way – like patience!

Tris – Business Analyst, Bristol

Volunteering helps you meet new people and make new friends!

Six years ago I started to volunteer at the Bristol Bike Project. We take donated bikes and bike bits, refurbish them, and pass them on to people whose life could be improved by having a bike. We give bikes and tuition in their maintenance to people just out of prison, people struggling to find work, to refugees. We also provide the service when the local GP prescribes a bike to someone. The idea is to reduce waste and help people thrive by giving them a bit more independence and mobility – with a bike you can get about the city, to see your friends, to get to work, to get fit and stay healthy.

I joined the project just as a long-term relationship failed, so it was easy to put a lot of time and energy into it! I started as a mechanic and now I spend an evening or two most weeks running the workshop, teaching other mechanics. I don’t often get to meet the people to whom we give these bikes, because those sessions happen in the daytime – but when I do, it’s great to see the magic happen. Over the years I’ve got involved in running the project’s operations and had a part in its governance. We work with all sorts of people.

I’ve made great friendships there, helped to give hundreds of bikes to people who need them, taught a lot of people, and learnt a lot. My own mechanic skills have grown hugely, but also my skills in teaching, and in leading a team.

What started out as ‘doing a bit of volunteering this week’ has become a big part of my life – I love it.

Jackie – ISP Test Engineering Manager, Southampton

Volunteering brings fun into your life – you can make friends for life

I am a volunteer with the Scout Association, attending weekly Beaver Scout meetings, planning, organising and delivering a programme of activities to young people aged 6-8 in line with Scouting's POR (Policy, Organisation and Rules) to develop young people Spiritually, Socially, Mentally and Physically.

In addition to this, there are weekend activities, camps, charity events, planning meetings and supporting the other sections, as required.

Previously, I was a Venture Scout, and took up various roles in leadership including Assistant Cub Scout Leader (ages 8-10.5), Scout Leader (10.5-14) Explorer Scout Leader (14-18) and Training Advisor to adults going through leadership training.

Volunteering has enabled me to travel, gain confidence and learn leadership qualities. It has broadened my exposure to different people from different backgrounds, and provided me with opportunities to give young people experiences they may not have had otherwise, giving them confidence and memories that last a lifetime. I have also made friends for life.

Andrew – Principal Technician, Basildon

Volunteering benefits your mental health

I’ve been volunteering now for over three years in my local park that is Gloucester Park in Basildon, Essex.

In the summer on 2020 when we were in lockdown and more people were using our parks, as a small group of people, we got together to start doing litter picks as there was so much litter lying around. Later that year we set up a little committee and applied successfully for a grant from the council! With the grant, we bought some gardening tools, so we are now doing gardening, as well as litter picking in the park, either on a Friday or Saturday. The group really struggles to get people to volunteer, but we carry on and are making a real difference within our park and working with Basildon Council.

Volunteering has benefitted my mental health being outside in the fresh air and helping nature out at the same time!

Jo – Quality Engineer Team Leader, Yeovil

Volunteering provides a sense of community

I have been volunteering in a variety of roles for 25 years (Brownies, Guiding District Commissioner, school Governor, Cub leader) as I wanted to give back to the local community, whilst providing young people the opportunity to be able to take part in various activities. Without volunteers, some of the organisations I support would not be available for young people to enjoy and thrive.

Currently I am a school governor, as the audit and risk governor at a local infant school. This involves assisting the Head Teacher and board of governors, through advising and supporting them. I have created a risk register and monitor it through the phases until mitigation of risk to the school and the children. I attend various meetings on a monthly basis.

I am also involved in Scouting, mainly as a Cub Scout leader, although I do help out with Scout camp and activities. My role involves planning and attending weekly pack meetings, fundraising for local and international charities (helping children in under privileged countries) and also weekend activities such as hiking, walking, paddle boarding and archery. I also assist in planning camps for the Cubs, Scouts and sometimes Beavers too! We usually have at least four camps per year, where I am responsible for first aid and I am the cook.

Also, I am involved in local community projects. At the moment this includes raising funds for a defibrillator for the local primary school.

For me, the benefits of volunteering include:

  • Offering support to the local community, making it a better place for everyone
  • Building new relationships, sharing my skills and learn new ones
  • Imparting knowledge and experience, such as the school governor role where I have had the opportunity to provide auditing skills and understanding, along with training of risk-based thinking and process approach.

I fondly remember being a Brownie and Guide when I was younger, and I wanted to offer the same opportunities to the youth of today!

Volunteering really is a great way to feel part of the community; it gives you a sense of purpose and keeps me active – both mentally and physically – and is such fun.

Just seeing the children improve their life skills, get involved in activities that they usually wouldn’t and smile is so very rewarding.

To quote Robert Baden Powell 'The most worthwhile thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others’, which I thinks sums up volunteering for me.

Stephen – Lead Hardware Engineer, Basildon

Volunteering allows you to learn  new skills

I am a volunteer for Essex Search and Rescue which involves searching for high risk vulnerable people in Essex and the surrounding counties. I call out the team in response to a notification that a person is missing, and manage the search when I am not conducting the search itself.

I have met a large number of similarly-minded people, I have learnt a many new skills and I get a fantastic boost when we have saved someone's life.