There’s a whole variety of reasons why people choose to volunteer. For some, it is the chance to make a difference to the lives of others, while for others it is a platform to learn new skills and gain experiences to optimise chances of securing employment.
One thing is for certain though, the common factor in volunteering is that everybody who does it finds it both a challenging and a rewarding experience. We at Optima UK think it’s a superb thing to do.
This week (1 – 7 June), we’re celebrating National Volunteer’s Week, a week which is dedicated to recognising the contributions volunteers make to communities and the chance to say “thank you”.
In order to highlight the importance of volunteering, we’re examining some of the lesser-known benefits.
- Volunteering improves your social connections
Volunteering is a great way to get out there and meet new people. It can be used as a way of getting to know your local community better or to connect with like-minded individuals who share similar interests with you. Either way, volunteering is a vehicle to boost your social life!
- Volunteering can enhance your employment opportunities
Whether you have been out of work for a period of time or you’re moving into a new and exciting career, volunteering is brilliant for enhancing CVs and developing new skills and experiences. An additional bonus is that by networking with an array of providers and stakeholders, you may find yourself being offered paid employment opportunities through your voluntary position.
- Volunteering improves your wellbeing
Research shows that acts of kindness are linked to a number of health benefits which include:
- Reduced levels of stress and depression
- Lower levels of blood pressure
- Increased confidence and self-esteem
One study showed that people over the age of 55 who volunteered for two or more organisations, were 44 per cent less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t volunteer. This suggests that due to the improved health of volunteers, the biggest health benefit by far, was the prospect of living longer!
- Volunteering provides happiness and fulfilment
Now for the science bit… there is evidence to show that when we exhibit behaviours of giving, our brain secretes dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, also known as our ‘feel-good’ chemicals, which leads to a feeling of euphoria often referred to as the “helper’s high”. Our brains have evolved this way to ensure that our natural instinct to help others kicks in as helping others and being helped by others is beneficial to our survival.
So with all these benefits, why wouldn’t we want to start volunteering?! If you’re intrigued to find out more or even search for a placement, you can visit Charityjob or Do-it