Make 2022 your year to volunteer! You will feel amazing, and it’s good for your health.
The British Heart Foundation wrote “Join amazing retail volunteers like our volunteer Chantelle who was inspired to help at her local BHF shop in Cardiff in 2016, in memory of her uncle, who sadly passed away from a heart attack aged just 31.Chantelle said: “We’re one big happy family. Now I’m a first aider, I’m CPR trained, and I wanted to give something back to the community. I’ve never been one for selfishness…if you’re kind, they’ll be kind back.”
Check the U.K. Government website for volunteering details near you. Anyone can volunteer. It can be very rewarding and is a great way to:
- meet new people
- gain new or use existing skills
- get experience
- make a big difference to your community
There are lots of easy ways to give your time to help others – from having a cup of tea with an elderly neighbour to helping out in your local area or making a regular commitment to volunteer with a charity or community group.
There are several organisations that can help you find a way to volunteer that suits you.
Do-it.org is a database of UK volunteering opportunities. You can search more than a million volunteering opportunities by interest, activity or location and then apply online.
You can also contact National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Volunteer Scotland, Volunteering Wales, Jersey Charities, Guernsey Charitiesor Volunteering Matters to find opportunities in your area.
Join-in runs volunteering projects as a legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Contact them to find out about how to get involved with local sporting and community projects.
Help Guide Dogs writes how it can improve your health. “Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.”
Volunteering increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common interests. You could volunteer for the charity/organisation that is all about the condition you are suffering from. You will then benefit from learning more about your condition and how to deal with it and make new friends with fellow sufferers.
One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to participate in a shared activity. Age U.K. wrote that “Researchers pooled a large amount of data from 40 scientific papers into the long-term effects of charity work, revealing that people who volunteered had their risk of dying reduced by as much as 22%.”
Age U.K. also wrote that “Australia appears to be one of the biggest nations for volunteering, with 36% of the adult population doing their bit for charity. In comparison, 22.2% help out in Europe while 27% give up their time in the US.”
You don’t have to move from your own lounge to volunteer for something. CCVS wrote “You don’t have to be online to volunteer from home, for example, you can knit, write letters, stuff envelopes, foster animals and offer telephone support and friendship. And if you are online you can volunteer virtually see below.
CCVS has the best list for home-based volunteering ideas which you can see below…
Bookmark help 5-8-year-olds learn to read. You can volunteer over 6 weeks to deliver one to one 30 minute reading sessions twice a week, the sessions are currently being held virtually.
Loving Hands www.lovinghands.org.uk
Is a website for people who like knitting, sewing etc. They have members from all over the UK who make items for various charities, from premature baby clothes to elephant blankets, bags for baby puffins, fiddle mats and muffs, toys. They work with over 36 different charities including the RSPCA, The Salvation Army, SANDS, Operation Orphan and many others.”
This volunteer search tool is exclusively for online volunteer projects. Each one has a timeline that can range anywhere from an hour to a few weeks. So whether you have an afternoon or several, you can help not-for-profit with tasks like writing thank you letters or editing photos.
Woodgreen Animal Shelter animal foster carer www.woodgreen.org.uk/how_to_help/animal_foster_carer
Age UK telephone befriending http://www.ageuk.org.uk/health-wellbeing/loneliness/befriending-services/
Silver Line telephone befriending http://www.thesilverline.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering/silver-line-telephone-friend/
For many more options check out www.charityjob.co.uk/volunteer-jobs/home-based/voluntary and www.do-it.org
This is volunteering undertaken online it could be anything from creating podcasts, designing marketing, providing tuition or editing documents. It can differ from micro-volunteering as it can be a regular commitment, it might require a few hours of your time and you might need some online training before you start.
The Mix is a UK based charity that provides free, confidential support for young people under 25 via online, social and mobile. They have a range of volunteering opportunities many of which can be done from home. They differ from micro-volunteering in that they are mostly regular commitments for a few hours each time.
Covid-19 symptom tracker app over 2.5 million people are taking a minute to record how they are feeling every day and contributing to the research being undertaken by King’s College London, Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals.
Zooniverse is a platform for people-powered research, more than a million volunteers assist professional researchers in accelerating important work and making a real difference. All you need is access to a computer, you don’t need qualifications or a set amount of time. Projects cover a wide range of topics including space, climate, nature and humanities, examples include:
The Earth Day Air Quality app invites people to photograph their horizon daily – Earth Challenge states that by gathering large quantities of photos coupled with associated air quality data, we are ultimately helping researchers develop machine learning algorithms that use visual analytics to enhance the data generated from widely available smart devices and low-cost sensors. With more precision and data, researchers will further our understanding of the relationship between air quality and our planet.
Spotting spider monkeys look through thermal images captured in forest canopy by drones and tag those with images of spider monkeys. Scientists will use this information to train an algorithm to spot the monkeys automatically so ecologists can target the areas to protect.
Bring Power to the people scientists at Oxford University are training algorithms to spot buildings in satellite images in Sub Saharan Africa (where there is no accurate population data) to give more people access to electricity offering opportunities to improve peoples quality of life.
One site which caught my eye and I am definitely going to work with is Post Pals, Brightening the lives of sick children. The charity helping you to ‘Post a Smile on a Sick Child’s Face’ by sending cards, letters, emails and little gifts to seriously ill children and their siblings in the UK. It couldn’t be easier for anyone of any age to get involved, requires no commitment and costs only a stamp and 5 minutes of your time.
Write down what you think you would love to spend time doing, that you really enjoy and then head to one of the big volunteering sites and I am pretty sure something will come up to match it. Take your time, decide how long (time-wise) you think you could manage over a month/week/year and give it a go.
If it is too much do fewer hours or finish it altogether. The best of volunteering is that you can finish it if you are finding it too much.