What Different Does Volunteering Make & How Can You Get Involved?
Whether you are looking to give something back to your local community, develop new skills or meet new people, volunteering is a great way to feel valued and part of a team.
“One thing volunteering isn’t about is giving up your time for nothing. Volunteering is about getting out there and doing good things that you have always wanted to do. Helping people in real need. Doing something useful. Learning new skills. And getting a lot out of it.”
Volunteers join us for a number of reasons. For some it is an opportunity to meet new people, for others it is a chance to share their professional skills and knowledge to benefit others or to keep them busy following retirement. Volunteering can help people to gain confidence and self-esteem. Many enjoy the opportunity to give something back to the community or an organisation that has affected their lives, directly or indirectly.
Neil, A Turning Tides Client and Volunteer, says, “ Volunteering gives me the opportunity to meet more people and to feel part of society again. It has been so nice to help out and put the things I have learned to good use and give a little bit back. It offers a chance for anyone to learn new skills and be part of a good cause.”
Volunteering can give your C.V. an edge, it is not only an opportunity to gain professional skills that can be used in the workplace. Over the last year, 14 of our volunteers have gone on to find paid work following their volunteering, 5 of them finding paid work with Turning Tides.
Karen, our Community Fundraising Administrator, and previous volunteer with Turning Tides says; “I chose to volunteer to reconnect with people after not working for over a year. Although I’ve managed to keep myself busy with DIY projects and seeing friends, I have often felt lonely being at home.”
“I stopped working to care for my dear Daddy, who was then having treatment for Bowel Cancer. He very sadly died and I have found it difficult to move my life back in a “normal” direction. Volunteering has enabled me to do this. I feel I am giving something back so that I am not the “needy” one anymore. It’s allowed me to feel worthwhile and useful. I’ve met new people and felt part of something again. It’s given me the confidence I lost in myself, to have faith in me, my skills and abilities. It has given me my mojo back. Thank you.”
In a bid to find out more precisely what impact volunteering can have on health, Volunteering England commissioned the University of Wales, Lampeter, to undertake a systematic review of published research. They asked researchers to assess the health effects of volunteering both on individual volunteers and on health service users.
This was the first time any attempt has been made to bring this data together and it shows a clear link between volunteering and good health both for volunteers and health service users. Volunteering can increase people’s longevity, improve their mental health, keep them fitter, and enable them to cope better with illness when it occurs.
Volunteering also has a positive impact on a range of factors affecting health service users including their self-esteem, disease management, adoption of healthy behaviours, compliance with medical treatment and relationships with health care professionals.
Of course, volunteering also has a huge impact on the organisations involved. Our Volunteers range from individuals who donate a day a year, to individuals who donate two days a week. Last year the support from our volunteers amounted to over 17,559 hours. If we were recruiting paid staff to carry out similar roles this would equate to £210,708. We are incredibly lucky to have such supportive and dedicated volunteers helping across all of our services here. Russell, St Clare’s Community Hub Manager, says, “I do not know how we would manage without our volunteers. They make such a difference here at St Clare’s. I know that the clients place a very high value on the fact that volunteers give up their own time to support the service. It is so important for clients to feel the warmth they provide on a daily basis, through conversation and spirit. We all have a deep respect for the commitment of our volunteers. Thank you all.”
So… How can you get involved?
We have a number of opportunities to suit everybody, and aim to be as flexible as possible with our volunteers.