Families/Carers / Health and wellbeing / Social Inclusion / Volunteering
Volunteering give a little, gain a lot.
Fact: “There is a strong link between feeling socially included and positive mental health, happiness, physical health, and longer life.” Head to Health, Australian Government, Dept of Health.
Having connections with the community and helping others allows us to feel part of something bigger than ourselves and this is energizing.
Recently, I came into work, and before I hit the keyboard, I caught up with supported employees. Over a short conversation about how life is different, the feeling of anxiousness we have out in public places, the missing of going to church, meeting friends and going to the footy, there was connection. As much as I get tired of hearing it on the news “we are not alone, and we are in this together”, it did warm my heart.
There is no doubt or hesitation – we have grateful hearts for the contribution given to us by our volunteers, but our wonderful volunteers have tapped into something that money can’t buy and we know it’s good for health and happiness.
I volunteer to cook a community meal once a month for people doing it tough and the connection with fellow volunteers and the dinner guests is a treat for my own well-being. It is to do with coming together with other people, giving but not receiving (one would think). It is hard to explain but in fact, the opposite occurs – I receive so much when I volunteer. I’m inspired by how people work together, the stories that are shared, coming alongside people, seeing people come in quiet and tired and leave talkative and nourished.
A young volunteer who was struggling with uni, struggling with finding a job, struggling with anxiety came to volunteer and her words say it all….
“Because I have my own stuff, I feel it’s all the more reason to help others. And it’s not that hard. I learnt from volunteering, the more people you interact with and the more stories you hear, the more you grow as a person.”
This young volunteer is now working, volunteering can be a stepping-stone but it can also be the rock we sometimes need.
If you are feeling a little this and that, are between jobs, waiting for your course to start, stopped work due to stress, anxiety, depression, feeling lonely, unsure, bored – seek out a volunteer opportunity. And if the first one doesn’t float your boat, keep looking! There is an abundance of volunteer roles – caretaking at a bird observatory in Perth for 3 months, working with children, seniors, building a house, planting trees – the options are endless.
I’ve got one word to say to you Kimmy “Volunteer”. You deserve it!