International Volunteer Day (5 December 2023) raises awareness of the important role volunteers play in responding to challenges facing the world.
We would like to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers, past, present, and future who continue to support SCAS!
The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) is a charitable organisation, established in 1979 to promote the study of human-companion animal interactions and raise awareness of the importance of pets in society. SCAS is committed to providing education, raising awareness, encouraging evidence-based research (including funding), and influencing the development of policies and practices that support the human-companion animal bond.
Like many smaller charitable organisations, we rely on volunteers to meet our objectives through the work, events, and communication SCAS undertakes. We simply could not operate without you and are most grateful to all our volunteers.
Volunteering can be so much more than a selfless act, which research has demonstrated can confer a ‘helpers high’ (a warm-fuzzy feeling of having done good). Not only does volunteerism confer an uplifting feeling of having contributed your time and expertise to a cause you believe in, but there are other benefits. For example, making friends, enhancing your CV, or building contacts are all possible benefits. Furthermore, many charities will offer training and the opportunity to develop new skills.
How to Volunteer?
There are a multitude of ways you can volunteer your time and services to a good cause of your choosing. First and foremost, you should pick an organisation or initiative whose work you are passionate about and believe in.
However, it is important to match your skills, capacity, and expectations with the type of volunteer work you seek. It is also important to recognise your limitations in terms of time commitments, mental and physical health, and resilience. Not everyone needs to be hands-on at the frontline. There are many different types of volunteer roles, and all are important. Below are just a few suggestions that may be of interest to SCAS members.
- Animal caretaker: animal shelters rely on volunteers to help clean out animal housing, walk dogs and socialise companion animals. Contact your local shelter to find out more.
- Pet fostering: many shelters and welfare organisations also need volunteers to look after animals in their own home until they can be permanently rehomed.
- Cat Protection has an initiative called Lifeline that helps families fleeing domestic violence place cats in foster homes, with volunteers caring for the cats until they can be reunited with their family in a stable home.
- Communications/public engagement officer: smaller animal charities often rely on volunteers to promote their cause, engage with the public and various stake holders, manage their public image, etc. This type of work can often be done remotely. SCAS is currently recruiting!
- Fund-raiser: this can be a more formal ongoing role within an organisation, or a one-off initiative to help raise funds. Contact your chosen charity to learn more.
- Volunteering together with your companion animal in an Animal Assistant Intervention (AAI) programme is another possibility. However, it is important that proper oversight and best practices are employed to ensure the safety and welfare of everyone involved (including your beloved pet). See here for the SCAS code of practice in the UK.
Whatever you do, you should mostly be enjoying your volunteer work. However, you may need to resist the urge to take on too much. This can be challenging when you see suffering and want to do more to help. Compassion fatigue is all too common in those who work in the animal field and is something everyone should be aware of.
SCAS is Recruiting (Remote) Volunteers to join the Comms Team!
Do you have a way with words and experience with public engagement and/or web design and web-based communications? Are you passionate about the relationship between people and animals? If so, SCAS has TWO volunteer roles in our Communications Team that might interest you!
What about you?
We would love to hear about the non-profits our members and followers volunteer with, and what kinds of roles you are engaged in! Please share your experiences and any opportunities that may be of interest to SCAS members.
Follow us on FB and Twitter (@SCASuk), and be sure to retweet posts from us and our partners on #PetsInHousingSCAS is the UK’s leading human-companion animal bond organisation through funding research, providing education, raising awareness, encouraging best practice, and influencing the development of policies and practices that support the human-companion animal bond. For more details check out our website at www.scas.org.uk