In a busy world, it’s essential to find a balance between personal and professional commitments and giving back to the community. Even small acts of volunteerism can make a significant difference. Whether you can spare a few hours a week or participate in occasional volunteering events, your efforts can contribute to a more compassionate, connected and meaningful world.
One of the most important factors of volunteering is investing your time the right way. Naturally we will give more, (may it be time and/or effort) to a cause that we are passionate about and believe in. Finding the right cause to volunteer therefore, is a very important part of the process. On the island, there are numerous different opportunities to volunteer, so with some searching, there should be something perfect for you.
We caught up with Jo Hamilton, Compliance Manager, who is part of the core team of volunteers at our local Parkrun https://www.parkrun.org.uk/nobles/ and is also a volunteer marshal at other local events like Western 10 Road Race https://runabc.co.uk/western-10-road-run
How did you get started in volunteering?
I started running at our local parkrun about 5 years ago and realised that its entirely run by volunteers. After I had run a few times, I decided to give some time back by volunteering and I quickly realised there was a very unique atmosphere of camaraderie and togetherness. Parkrun is like a family.
Do you volunteer regularly?
There is a real sense of community at parkrun and that keeps me coming back. The camaraderie among volunteers and participants is incredible. You get to know so many people from diverse backgrounds, and it’s really uplifting to see everyone come together every Saturday morning. There is also a milestone program which rewards both running and volunteering and I’m a few weeks off receiving my 100 volunteer t-shirt – that’s definitely a motivator! If you want to run and marshal, there are options to help set up or take down afterwards, or if you don’t run you can park walk or tail walk, which both mean you get a credit for the run and the volunteer. (tail walkers stay at the back so no one is ever last)
What relevant experience do you have that will help you be a great volunteer?
You don’t need any! Just a positive attitude. I’ve volunteered in most capacities, such as marshalling the course, timing, or scanning barcodes. I’ve set up in the morning, organised the other volunteers, marshalled the car park and each role is crucial to the event’s success, and it’s gratifying to know that my contribution, no matter how small, helps make parkrun a positive experience for everyone involved. Recently I was Run Director for the first-time which means being responsible for overseeing the event, making sure everything runs smoothly, and ensuring the safety and enjoyment of all participants. It’s incredibly rewarding to fulfil any of the roles, you receive full training and get to see people of all ages and fitness levels come together and accomplish their goals.
What personal benefits do you gain from volunteering at Parkrun?
Lots! the sense of fulfilment helping others achieve their goals is immeasurable. Seeing the joy on people’s faces as they cross the finish line or set new personal bests is incredibly rewarding. It’s also a great way to start the weekend, stay active and be connected to the outdoors. All over the world parkrun takes place in beautiful settings and when I’m not running, the physical activity involved in volunteering, whether it’s setting up equipment or directing participants, keeps me active. We also meet afterwards for tea and crumpets and that’s a huge draw!
The confidence that volunteering at parkrun has given me has also meant I have marshalled at various running events island wide and thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly enjoy marshalling for my athletic club Western AC when I have time.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering volunteering at Parkrun for the first time?
I would encourage anyone considering volunteering to give it a try. It’s a welcoming and inclusive community, so don’t be intimidated if you’re new. You don’t need to be a fitness expert or have any special skills – there’s a role for everyone, and you receive training and support.
Start by signing up on the parkrun website and check the volunteer roster for your local event (ours is Nobles parkrun.) You can choose a role that interests you or one that aligns with your skills and comfort level. Then, simply show up on event day (with the appropriate coat – it goes ahead in most weather!), and you’ll quickly become part of the family.
How can volunteering help with your career?
Volunteering at Parkrun often involves leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills. It can be a fantastic opportunity for personal growth and development. We have a few younger people doing their Duke of Edinburgh volunteering with us at Nobles parkrun and seeing their confidence improve is extremely rewarding. You become part of something bigger than yourself, and the connections you make can last a lifetime.
Volunteering at Parkrun combines physical activity, the sense of belonging to a supportive community, the opportunity for personal growth, and the pleasure of being outdoors. It’s a unique and enjoyable way to spend your time while making a positive impact on others’ lives and its free!
Giving back makes an enormous difference!
Often your hobbies present the opportunity or need for volunteers. The communities on the Isle of Man are strong and hold events for people with common interests to meet, but these events do not happen without the work of volunteers. Putting yourself out there can be daunting, however nothing good in life every comes easily!
Volunteering is an active approach to helping causes around you and is one of the most welcomed charitable acts. Time is a finite resource so for someone to give up their time amongst many other responsibilities is a great selfless act. Without the work of volunteers, many great charities and NGOs wouldn’t have been able to do the work that they have. Volunteering doesn’t have to be taking part in anything that would require you to learn complicated skills or to donate money, sometimes it’s as simple as taking the time to talk to someone who needs a friend. Everyone has characteristics that are valuable in a volunteer, such as being reliable, having good organisation skills, or even having good communication skills.
In conclusion, there are many different benefits to volunteering, all revolving around enriching all lives involved. With our busy schedules, it is sometimes too easy to forget to invest in ourselves as well as those around us. By volunteering we can help those around us, to participate in things that will benefit us in both our professional lives and our personal lives. Good hobbies become good habits so try today to make the first steps to volunteering and kick start the healthy habits!