VOLUNTEERING, BY BROOKE TUNBRIDGE / by Brooke Tunbridge

Do what you love while helping others

If you’re looking for a new, different and rewarding way to spend your time, consider volunteering. Maybe you already volunteer (pat on the back if that’s you), but want to try other areas. There are so many options in Newcastle – too many to fit in this list. From media, charity, sustainability and going green, to creative and performing arts, there are so many ways you can give back to the community, and in turn expand your skills and maybe even make new friends (all while getting good feelings about using your time to help others). I’ve collected a few ideas to get you started with volunteering in the Hunter:

Blackbutt Reserve
Perfect for animal lovers, volunteers at Blackbutt can assist either in animal care or in the kiosk. Personally, I would love to hang around koalas all day (even if they’re sleeping the whole time).

The Commons
A vibrant community hub in Beaumont Street. There a few things you can do to help out at the Commons: helping in the café or the Common Goods store, facilitating events, helping with bookings, cleaning, offering your print or web design skills, managing the Commons’ communications, etc. Recognising the work of volunteers, the Commons gives a 15% discount voucher for the Common Goods store and Commons café for every four-hour shift you complete.

UON Volunteers                                                                       
From student media to university events and activities, if you’re a current student, there’s an abundance of volunteering opportunities available. Find your interest and meet like-minded people.

Renew Newcastle              
Renew is a not-for-profit organisation that has been established to find short- and medium-term uses for buildings in Newcastle’s CBD that are currently vacant, disused or awaiting redevelopment. They’re the reason Hunter Street became so vibrant, compared to the desolate state of empty shopfronts a few years ago. You can help out at working bees, exhibition openings, special events, walking tours and more.

Newcastle Art Gallery
Or any art gallery/creative space, for that matter – I’m sure they’d love a helping hand, especially if you’re passionate about what it is they showcase. Art galleries are always a great place to meet like-minded people as well.

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To apply for the majority of these volunteer opportunities, head to the relevant website and you’ll find a volunteer application form. If you’re aware of any volunteer opportunities that you think people should know about, let us know!

Head to www.volunteering.nsw.gov.au for an extensive list on volunteer opportunities in areas such as Aboriginal communities, aged care, education, health, multicultural, women’s services and much more. If I haven’t already convinced you, it’s a great way to develop personally and boost self-esteem, mental health and job prospects, as well as connecting with and better understanding the community (it’s a win-win).