Community wellbeing projects are on the rise. Growing vegetables in a shared allotment, volunteer-run cafés, and sharing libraries all have a common objective – bringing together like-minded people to improve lives. Not only do community wellbeing projects benefit the community as a whole but they can also improve the mental health of the people involved.
Likewise, community organisations rely on the ongoing support of volunteers to successfully deliver many of their goals.
How Volunteering Benefits the Volunteer
Humans are social creatures, meaning it’s important for us to seek meaningful relationships with other people. In fact, connecting with others is recognised by the NHS as one of its “5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing”, alongside “giving to others” AKA volunteering!
Make New Friends
Joining a community wellbeing project helps you to make new friends and contacts, which can grow to be a great support network in the future. Choosing a project that engages you enables you to meet others with common interests, plus you’ll have fun at the same time! Whether it’s sharing a passion for photography, doing a spot of gardening, or baking a cake for a local care home, committing to a shared activity is a great way to strengthen friendships with people you may not have met otherwise.
Feel Part of Your Community
The Internet proved to be an invaluable commodity during the recent pandemic, helping people to stay connected despite physical social distancing measures. However, many people continue to feel disconnected from their communities.
Volunteering in a community wellbeing project can be a hugely valuable and rewarding experience that can also help you to feel part of your community. In addition to meeting like-minded people, you’ll be able to make a worthwhile contribution to your local neighbourhood. Your contribution doesn’t have to be a large gesture, either. Even the smallest tasks can make a tangible difference, from painting a fence at the community centre to reading with children at your local library.
Today, many parents often face the challenge of juggling busy working lives with spending quality family time together. Volunteering is a positive way to encourage your family to spend time together, get away from the screens, and feel good about it at the same time!
Children watch everything we do, and they learn from our example. Getting your whole family involved in a community wellbeing project, like helping out at an animal shelter or going down to the community allotment, shows them exactly how volunteering makes a difference to the world around them.
We all know the importance of keeping active to maintain fit and healthy bodies, but physical activity is also a really powerful way to enhance your mental health. Volunteering is a great way to keep active, no matter your mobility levels. By participating in a shared activity with others, you’ll feel more encouraged to keep going! You can choose any activity that fits your lifestyle, such as light gardening, crafting or gentle walks in nature.
Boosting Your Mood
As well as helping to reduce social isolation, which is known to be a key risk factor for depression, volunteering can greatly improve your mental wellbeing. By using your own skills and knowledge, sharing it with others and generally doing good for the community, you achieve a sense of accomplishment. Accompanying that feeling is a boost in your own self-confidence, and the happier you feel, the more positive you are about the future.
How Volunteering Benefits the Community
Community organisations can’t function without volunteers. We rely on volunteers as a valuable source of skills that enable us to achieve our long-term goals and better the lives of people in need.
Beyond the provision of skills, though, involving the whole community in wellbeing projects helps to strengthen the ties with those we serve. Well-run community wellbeing projects instil a sense of pride amongst the whole population. When it inevitably comes time to seek funding, having the whole community behind the project demonstrates the need for the project.
It’s a Win-Win
On the surface, community wellbeing projects may just appear to serve the needs of the chosen beneficiary group. In reality, community wellbeing projects are no-brainers since they not only improve the lives and mental health of the direct beneficiaries but also positively boost the wellbeing of the volunteers and wider community.
This article was written by Millie Fuller. If you have any questions about the article please contact firstname.lastname@example.org