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Volunteering: Improving your mental health, wellbeing and making a difference in peoples’ lives

By Bryony Dent, Volunteer Storyteller

Are you a volunteer? You might be without even realising it – maybe you’re always giving your time to help others. It could be your family, your friends, your neighbours or even strangers that you kindly support.

Perhaps you’ve volunteered once or twice with your colleagues from work. Or maybe you’ve thought about volunteering, but never found the right opportunity.

Whatever your circumstance, volunteering has something to offer everyone. It’s a great way to spend some of your spare time for a number of reasons:

• It’s an opportunity to learn some new skills
• You can build your network, your confidence and make new friends
• You might discover a new career path or add experience to your CV
• It feels great to give your time to causes you care about

But there’s another benefit that’s often overlooked…

A study carried out by three researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Birmingham, explored the link between volunteering and health.

Their biggest find? That volunteers have a better state of mental health and wellbeing than people who have never volunteered.

But how about me? I have been volunteering for six years and the experiences have had a significant effect on my mental health and wellbeing.

I used to feel guilty about how little of my time was spent helping others. I was so wrapped up in my needs and ambitions, but spending a little time volunteering helped me to see the bigger picture.

Not only am I lucky enough to volunteer in a way that makes the most of my skills and works around my schedule, I also enjoy the feeling of giving back some of my time to people and causes that need a helping hand. And I know I’m not the only one …

If you’re reading this and thinking about getting involved, now is the time to act. Volunteering offers so many benefits – for volunteers and the people being supported.

If you’re interested, it’s never too early or too late to start. Plus, the friendly team at Dimensions will be happy to answer any questions you may have and support you every step of the way.

Click here to find out more about volunteering with Dimensions.