How is volunteering like going on a quest?

07 June 2019

Dr Laura Porro, Senior Consultant

Quests are journeys to achieve specific goals or missions, to slay a dragon or retrieve a golden chalice from a wicked witch. Why is this like volunteering?


Well, most knights think they are signing up for a quest to help people in need (e.g. a slightly singed and terrified village). But in fact, the knight often gets as much, if not more, out of the quest as the people they are trying to help.

The knight learns new skills, faces down fears and comes out braver and stronger than before. In actual fact, the knight often needs the quest just as much as the people he/she is rescuing need to be rescued (if this doesn’t ring a bell, watch Shrek and you’ll see what I mean).

I personally have found volunteering to be much like going on a quest in this respect. Research has shown that volunteering has a hugely positive impact on volunteers:

  • It improves self-esteem and confidence.
  • It enhances skills and competences.
  • It distracts you from your problems and gives you a sense of perspective (find out more about this here).

I have always had a natural curiosity to discover what makes others ‘tick’. I believe that every person can shine in their own way and I feel proud to enable others to bring their out their inner hero. But I did not know how to put this in practice until PPL supported me to become a mentor in the X-Forces Enterprise Mentoring programme.

X-Forces mentors entrepreneurs (often armed forces-leavers) by sharing their experiences and knowledge, and by being a friendly ear to help navigate the natural highs and lows of setting up and running a business.

I have been a volunteer mentor for over a year now and have experienced firsthand the benefits of volunteering mentioned above. Many of the skills needed to be a good mentor are similar to those required to be an effective consultant. When I motivate and encourage my mentees, I am honing my leadership skills. When I listen and ask questions, I enable them to find their own solutions, rather than providing answers that might not work for them. Mentoring is bringing new perspectives and ways of thinking into my personal life, as I meet people with a different background from mine.

In other words, volunteering as a mentor has made me better at my job and this in turn has helped PPL do more for the public sector.

PPL recognises how important volunteering is to personal development as well as, of course, to those supported by volunteering and to society. We therefore encourage and support everyone at PPL to contribute to worthwhile causes. You can read more about PPL and how we work here. The knights are all gone and the dragons are dead but that’s no reason not to have adventures.