Volunteering is at the heart of every healthy community. Not only can you feel some valuable benefits when you take part in a volunteering project, but the effects you can have on your local community and beyond are remarkable.
Here are the 10 top reasons why volunteering makes a difference to you and your community.
Helping others make us happy. This is been proven by research time and again. The most recent study on happiness carried out at the London School of Economics with a large group of US citizens found that the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Feelings of optimism and focusing on others also reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. Volunteers are more physically healthy and live better for longer.
Volunteering provides valuable community services so more resources can be spent on meeting local needs. A report published last year identified that UK faith groups alone contribute over £3 billion worth of support nationally. 75% of the hours put into these social projects are contributed by volunteers.
You can try out a new career or increase your knowledge of your present one. Even if your volunteering role is not connected to your job, it will help you to hone vital skills – communication, teamwork or problem solving – that will make you a more effective employee or manager.
Volunteering in a team helps to unite people from diverse backgrounds to work toward a common goal, building camaraderie and improving your team-building and social skills. Volunteering is one of the best ways to make friends and strengthen existing relationships by committing to a shared activity.
Understanding community needs and engaging with those from a different background helps develop empathy and self-efficacy. Volunteering can offer you hands-on experiences and new relationships that you would not encounter in your regular life. These can be incredibly enriching and invigorating.
Whether you are supporting families, working in a community garden, supporting young people or befriending a disabled adult, your time and energy will help you fortify your community. It also strengthens the ties to your community, helping you appreciate its gifts and assets, and broadens your support network.
Volunteers often discover hidden talents that can have a positive effect on their self-esteem. It’s also a great way to explore your interests –many people pursue their hobbies while volunteering. What’s more, finding work that is meaningful and stimulating can offer a break from everyday commitments, providing renewed creativity and motivation that you can take into other areas of your life.
By extending yourself and ‘filling the gaps’, you can support community resources that you use yourself or that benefit people you care about.
Community service invests in local areas and the people who live there, partnering with others to make it a better place. You can be the change you want to see.
Whether you’re involved in a local community project or are taking part in an international movement, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Knowing you make a difference and have helped others is empowering and gives you a natural sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Convinced? Get involved and give volunteering a go!