Volunteering – help others and help yourself!

by merioconnell on 18 November, 2013

Meri with volunteers from Hilton International

Meri with volunteers from Hilton International

Last month I met up with other Globe members (Go Local On a Better Environment) at the Corwen Road Sheltered Housing to dig out the big planter at the front and plant bulbs along the hedge at the back. The Tilehurst Globe do this every year, along with lots of other plantings that help make Tilehurst an attractive place to live (think of the daffodils on the corner by the library or the horse trough on Park Lane!).

This year we were joined by a group of young people who all worked for Hilton International. They had been given time off work to take part in projects that benefitted the community. I found myself impressed that major employers are encouraging and supporting their staff to take a more active role within their local communities.

Since becoming active within my own community I have been repeatedly impressed with those individuals who give up their time and energy for no financial gain to improve things that they care about. I knew that the work done by voluntary organisations significantly impact on the areas and people they are involved with, but what’s in it for the volunteer?

I did some digging and this is what I found:

  • Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. It helps you to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. Volunteering can broaden your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighbourhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities.


  • Volunteering benefits both mental and physical health. It can boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. Doing good for others and the community, provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.


  • Volunteering reduces the risk of depression by lowering social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps develop a solid support system, protecting you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times.


  • Volunteering is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies find that volunteers have a lower mortality rate than those who don’t volunteer. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.


  • Volunteering offers you the chance to try out a new career without making a long-term commitment, by gaining experience in a new field. In some fields, you can volunteer directly at an organisation that does the kind of work you’re interested in.


I understand we are all pushed for time, many of us are working longer hours than we like and it sometimes feels like there is no time for us to relax and switch off from life’s pressures. But giving up just a little of our time to volunteer, can be far more rewarding in so many ways than plonking down upon the sofa and watching tv.

There are so many organisations that rely on volunteers to continue their work, there really is something for everyone, no matter what your skills or interests are. Reading Voluntary Action is a good place to start, you can find them at rva.org.uk.

Maybe you could encourage your work place to consider volunteer days, where you still get paid for giving your time to a local voluntary group. They can get good publicity for doing this – I’d never have mentioned Hilton International on my blog if they hadn’t sent their staff to help at the Tilehurst Globe’s planting.

I hope those young volunteers come by the Sheltered Housing in spring, so they can see the fruits of their work in bloom. I know that the residents will be glad they came and so will I each time I walk past on my way to the shops.


Meri O’Connell

Tilehurst Ward

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