Stand Proud – The positive impact of volunteering

This week we are excited to welcome Naomi Hattaway to our podcast interview series. Naomi spent her expat years in India and Singapore and volunteering was a massive part of her life. Today she shares her experience and we talk about the value of volunteering.

Wherever you live in the world, there will no doubt have been times when you have been asked to volunteer and give your time, skills and experience for the benefit of others.

Andy Haldane, Chief Economist of the Bank of England (The Economist 2014) stated that volunteers in the UK do the work of approximately 1.25 million ‘proper’ employees. The volunteer sector of the UK producing about £50 billion worth of economic output, roughly the size of the British energy sector.

Worldwide each year nearly 1 billion people are engaged in volunteering.

There are obviously huge benefits

  • For the communities and people the volunteers serve.
  • For the volunteers in terms of social interaction and general sense of well-being derived from their engagement in their volunteer roles.

For expats volunteering is often an excellent way to become involved in the new local community and at the same time make a valued contribution.

And yet

We know anecdotally and personally how we can downplay those contributions, especially the expat partners. This is demonstrated by the way we refer, or prefer not to refer to our voluntary activities. We hear people saying things like,

  • ‘I help out a little bit at the refuge, its nothing really.’
  • ‘I have a huge career gap, all I did was some volunteer work while we were overseas.’
  • ‘I don’t know who will want to employ me, my role (full-time leadership role) was only voluntary while we were abroad.’

Today we want to celebrate your contributions and encourage every volunteer to stand proud and recognise the massive contributions that voluntary efforts make.

We interviewed the wonderful Naomi Hattaway on this topic. Naomi is the founder of ‘I am a Triangle’ a hugely successful Facebook community, created for people who have lived their lives in other cultures and countries, either as an adult or a child.

Her approach to life is represented by these words;

‘There are only two things required in life, one is to show up, the second is to be kind’

In this podcast episode Naomi shares

  • The role that volunteering has played in her life at home and abroad.
  • Her suggestions on how to talk about our volunteer experiences from a professional perspective.
  • Her belief that volunteering doesn’t have to be about finding and joining something that already exists. Her suggestion:

‘You can fill a gap, there is no bigger confidence builder than the fact you created something that was needed’

  • How her experience as a volunteer was invaluable in the creation of her own business.

We hope that you enjoy the interview and will be inspired to see your voluntary contributions in the positive light that they deserve. You can listen to our conversation on the player at the top of the post where you can also download it and subscribe to future episodes.

You can connect with Naomi via LinkedIn and get to know her better through her Blog.

Naomi also invites you to join the Facebook group I am A Triangle and participate in the Tri-Connect meetings which are beginning to spring up all over the world. 

How do you represent your voluntary activities positively on your profiles such as LinkedIn and your resumé? Following Naomi’s advice why not go and update your profiles to represent these important and valuable roles.

If you enjoyed hearing Naomi’s story, don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes and while you are there, click subscribe to make sure you don’t miss future episodes.

If you are interested in joining our private Facebook Group for expat partners interested in focusing on their personal and professional development while abroad, click on the link above and ask to join.