Have you ever thought about volunteering? What’s stopping you? Our CSR partner Verity Slater explains why volunteering should be on your to do list for 2019.
At Stephens Scown, we realise the importance of having access to volunteering opportunities and offer staff annual leave to give back to causes close to their hearts.
Beyond the positive of giving up your free time to help out those in need, research from the Mental Health Foundation suggests that the benefits of volunteering are far from one-sided and that you can actually help yourself through volunteer activities.
Feel good by doing good
At a biological level, volunteering really does make you feel better – helping others causes the brain to release chemicals linked to feelings of happiness. The more you volunteer and help out, the more you’ll benefit from these feelings.
Other positive takeaways from volunteering include improving your social life and getting you more physically active.
Giving back to a cause or community is rarely a solitary activity, so you can often meet like-minded people who share your passion for volunteering and develop firm friendships.
There are plenty of voluntary activities that can get you out and about in cities or the countryside, whether you’re organising a beach clean-up, a woodland walk or a choir service at Christmas.
Be less lonely through volunteering
If you are feeling isolated or lonely, giving back to a worthy cause can be just the thing to help you gain a real sense of belonging in your community, or as part of a wider social network.
Seeing how your actions can have a genuine, positive impact on other people’s lives can work wonders for your mental wellbeing, as this allows you to focus less on what you might not have and more on what you can give through your efforts.
How to give back to your community
There’s no shortage of deserving causes out there that could do with voluntary support, but how do you decide who to help?
There are a few tips to consider to make the most out of your giving back:
- Do something that you’re comfortable with. Not all voluntary roles are equal and some can be stressful if you don’t what will be expected of you, but likewise there are countless volunteering opportunities out there to fit your interests.
- Try to get something out of it. Beyond feeling good, you can also use volunteering opportunities to learn something new, meet new people or build up your experience in a certain area.
- Look at the end result. Volunteering should ultimately put something back just as you are taking enjoyment out of it – a litter pick will clean up the environment for others to enjoy, while helping out elderly neighbours will make their lives that little bit easier.
Verity Slater is a partner in our Truro office who leads up our Giving Back initiative. Verity also advises clients on employment law matters and heads up our Marine sector.