Volunteering – Good For Body And Soul

1st June 2018

eople who are more active, feel valued, have a network of friends and are happy to get involved in meaningful activities. Getting involved in volunteering can offer these benefits, and as Julie Cusick explains, there is a well established and growing body of evidence to support this.

Volunteer Now has carried out research (Making the Connection 2: A Further Exploration of the Attitudes, Lifestyle and Volunteering Activity of the 50+ Age Group in Northern Ireland’) with people in Northern Ireland aged 50+ and has found that:

  • 75% of respondents described their life as either very active or quite active.  Volunteers were more likely to say that they were active than non-volunteers.
  • The majority of respondents stated that getting involved in volunteering had increased their social interaction with people from different age groups (69%), encouraging more intergenerational contact through volunteering.

The benefits of volunteering are wide and varied. It can help:

  • improves confidence
  • encourage socialising and prevent loneliness and isolation
  • provide opportunities to have fun and learn new skills
  • improve physical and mental health

There are many people and charities that need help and one small action can have a huge impact.  Connecting with people and giving back not only helps others, but is proven to make us feel better about ourselves.  Many opportunities are available through Volunteer Now.

Volunteers’ Week takes place in early June, and it’s the perfect time to think about volunteering!

The Befriending Scheme aims to reduce social isolation experienced by people who have little contact with family friends or the community.  Volunteers provide companionship through regular visits when perhaps the older person is unable to go out and only sees their home help or carer.  These visits can help reduce feelings of loneliness and low mood and can include confidence and general well-being for the clients.  If you are interested in finding out more, contact Victoria O’Neill.

The Driving Scheme is a service for older and vulnerable people who are unable to use public transport and who lack support, or whose relatives or friends do not have the means to help them.   Volunteer Drivers drive older people to healthcare appointments or day centres and the drives can be ‘on-off’ occasional or a regular commitment.  Find out more from Sylvia Moore.

Volunteer Now provides support to a range of older peoples groups and forums across Belfast.  If you are interested in finding out what’s available in your local area or to get involved contact Deirdre Murphy.

Have you volunteered in the past?  Perhaps you’d be interested in giving it a go?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.