Volunteers Week, which runs from 1st to 7th June, is the perfect opportunity to find out more about how you can make a difference.
This year’s Volunteer Week focuses on saying ‘thank you’ to the millions of people across the UK who volunteer. Every year, over 20 million people donate more than 100 million hours to their communities every week. It has been estimated that the economic value of this activity is worth in excess of £40 billion to our economy, and services and initiatives that are vital to the running of our country simply wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for volunteers. This includes the NHS, the Coastguard Rescue Service (3,500 volunteers), the Mountain and Cave Rescue Service (3,500 volunteers in England and Wales), Natural England (2,200 volunteer wardens), and the judiciary (30,000 volunteer magistrates in England and Wales).
On the Volunteers Week website you can read case stories from volunteers in a range of sectors who talk about how volunteering has enhanced their lives. You can also find out about volunteering opportunities in your area here. There’s information on Volunteer Week events taking place across the UK, including fairs where you can find out more about volunteering, what sort of work you might like to do, and talk to other volunteers about their experiences.
There’s no doubt that volunteering enhances lives. Whether it’s helping out at your local hospice, manning the tills at a charity shop, serving soup to homeless people, planting trees in a children’s play area, or paying a visit to elderly or vulnerable people in your community, there are many, many ways in which you can reach out to others. Volunteers report feelings of connection and happiness through helping others, and research has shown that being of service has a powerful effect on our own wellbeing, as well as those we aim to help. Volunteering also acts as a kind of glue in communities, promoting bonds and connections, often between people who wouldn’t necessarily meet in their everyday lives.
If you have been toying with volunteering, or have a bit of time to share, find out more about Volunteers Week here.