If you lead a busy lifestyle, it can feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to donate to others, but it turns out the more we give, the happier we can feel. That’s according to a new report that has found volunteering can improve your mental health.
The British Heart Foundation’s ‘The Gift Of Time’ report found that seven in 10 UK volunteers say giving their time to charity has improved their mental health, with charity groups helping people make friends, feel part of a community, learn new skills and feel a sense of purpose.
As well as tackling issues like anxiety and depression, the study of more than 2,000 UK adults also suggests volunteering can help people overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Fancy rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck into a good cause? Here are a few ideas to get you started…
## Organise a charity clothes sale
Hosting your own charity sale with a group of pals is a fun way to raise funds for a cause close to your heart, while spending some quality time with your friends. Club together your donated clothes, hire a local hall or community centre to host your event and spend a day pricing everything up. You can also get creative designing invites and spreading the word on social media.
Not only can you help out a worthwhile cause, you’ll also reap the benefits of a much-needed clear out. Who knows, you might even find a bargain or two in the process.
## Volunteer with Greenpeace
Whether it’s running a street stall or working at a festival, Greenpeace – which works to protect the planet – has lots of volunteering options. In fact, 15,000 volunteers around the world help the organisation do everything from painting signs to organising local marches.
## Find a community project you care about
Whether it’s helping build a community garden or veg patch that will benefit your local area, coaching a local youth team or volunteering at an animal shelter, spend some time researching a project you’re actually keen to get involved in.
If you’re looking to switch careers, volunteering in a post that’s related to your chosen industry can help you make contacts and get a sense of your new work environmeny. And remember, just because volunteer work isn’t paid, doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. Many volunteer jobs can help you build on your public speaking skills and one-on-one communication. They may also offer training, for instance, in first aid.
## Volunteer at a homeless shelter
If you live in or near a city, it’s likely you’ll have a local homeless shelter nearby – most of which rely on help from unpaid volunteers. Find out whether you can help prepare meals, plate up hot dinners or work behind the scenes with admin.
After service ends, it’s likely you’ll all chip in with the cleanup effort too, and many shelters also feed their volunteers.
## Get involved in a mentoring scheme
Mentoring is a fantastic opportunity to help raise others up – particularly if you work in a sector that’s difficult to break into.
Whether it’s signing up to a local mentorship scheme or simply taking an intern for coffee, passing on knowledge and advice about your job can be invaluable to your mentee, and can spark renewed creativity and motivation in you too.
## Boldie Links:
– Greenpeace: Find out more about the non-profit’s volunteering opportunities near you, by visiting the link **here**
– NVCO provides links and ideas for volunteering in your local area – see the link **here**