In 2012 why not try some of these low cost ideas and try something new?
1. Volunteer. Many different services are crying out for helpers. Health services, the probation services, charities, hospitals ... the list is endless. A few hours a week can literally change your life as well as the lives of others. As well as new experiences you can use volunteering as work experience toward a new job or as a way into a whole new career.
2. Take a home course. Many companies and institutions offer learning from home. The best known one is the Open University. So many courses to choose from and not just your usual business, English or maths courses either. Taking a home course is a great way to gain an academic qualification in your own home and at your own pace which can help you further your career, help you embark on a new one or just broaden your horizons.
3. Adult education (local). Most communities run adult education courses on an evening at local halls and schools. You can retake GCSE’s, learn to paint china, do computer studies, learn woodwork.... the list is vast. Some courses are for interest only, some can gain you a qualification or accreditation. As well as learning something new you can meet likeminded people from your own area. I took several of these courses when I was younger including deaf awareness / BSL and courses on recognising and dealing with drug abuse, and accredited counselling courses. These were great for the work I was doing at the time but were also very interesting and enjoyable!
4. Join a community group. Join the local ramblers, the amateur dramatics (yes, I’ve done this myself – it was enormous fun!), a choir, a gardening group or historical society. So many local groups and opportunities for you. Nothing has to be permanent, why not give it a go, you can always stop if it’s not for you.
It’s worth knowing that Open University and local authority adult education groups offer subsidised fees for people on lower incomes or for those who are in receipt of certain benefits. Check to see if you are eligible.
Try something new this year, you never know – you might like it!
By Nicki Cawood, freelance writer and blogger.Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net