Lifestyle & Culture

‘Tis the Season to be Part of Something Bigger

This year has really made us appreciate what we normally take for granted. Phoebe Metcalfe discusses some of the volunteering options for the holiday season, and into 2021.

This year is finally ending.

Although most of us are happy to put all of 2020 behind us and make the most of Christmas celebrations with the ones we love, a lot of us feel the urge to help those who are less fortunate; either through donating food, gifts, money, or even our time.

But the barrier we face is not knowing what charitable options are available to us, and not being aware of the processes leading up to Christmas. A lot of events, such as the Samaritans Christmas Lunch in the Park, require Police Checks and Working with Children Checks (WWCC), and these processes aren’t completed immediately.

Tony Ross, CEO of the Hunter Volunteer Centre (HVC), says that Christmas can be an emotional period for a lot of people. He appreciates how the holidays can put our fortunes into perspective, especially post-COVID-19 with so many of us not having the social interactions and connections we’ve needed.

However, we shouldn’t be disheartened if we’ve left our volunteer decision-making too late for this season.

“The feeling of volunteering is all year round.” – Tony Ross

There are so many options for you to help your community. Whether you have one day a year to spare, or five days a week; if a role is available as a career, there is a parallel role available in volunteering. Ross says that volunteering is non-discriminatory if you’ve got the time.

“Whether you’re young, middle-aged, older. Whether you’re employed, unemployed, a student, migrant, refugee, it doesn’t matter.”

Ross’s attitude to volunteering is the concept of an equal exchange for your invaluable time, you get to decide what your time is worth with skills, interactions, and experience as the currency. This attitude is at the heart of HVC.

“I think one way of making the person feel immediately thanked is to make them feel welcome, but then saying ‘What would you like out of this? What would you like to do?’”

“[When] you finish a volunteering experience, if you walk away with a smile on your face, then it’s been a good exchange for your time.”

I was volunteering with HVC in their Community Visitor Scheme, visiting a beautiful lady in an aged care facility once a week, until my mental health limited my ability to continue in the role. From first-hand experience, I know that HVC values its volunteers, and understands that individuals’ capacities fluctuate.

They never made me feel guilty for leaving and were incredibly understanding and supportive.

Ross says that down to the base level, without their volunteers, not-for-profit organisations are just buildings.

“We make that volunteering experience about individuals, about people. People have the capacity to help, others have the capacity to need that help.”

There are so many opportunities available heading into the New Year, here’s where you can find them:


Gift Wrapping at Tweed Heads until 24th Dec 2020

Soul Cafe



Hunter Volunteer Centre

Newcastle Council

Lake Macquarie Council

Go Volunteer – Newcastle


Feature Image: Joel Muniz via Unsplash, no changes made

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