Volunteer to help others

Go to our Coronavirus Mental Health Information Hub for wellbeing information and service updates.

Volunteering can have many benefits, whether you're giving time to support a good cause or community project, or helping out with friends, family or neighbours. Find out about how volunteering can be good for your mental and physical health, and also where to look for volunteer roles in Leeds.

How can volunteering help me?

Volunteering isn't just about helping your community, it's also about helping yourself. You might meet interesting people or develop new skills. You could get experience that helps you if you're looking for work or planning to change jobs.

You could become more confident in talking to people, challenging yourself or using skills you already have. If you're not working at the moment, being a volunteer could help you get out of the house and develop a routine.

Volunteering can boost your self-esteem by giving you a sense of purpose and achievement. Giving your time to others can stimulate the reward areas in the brain, helping to boost your mood and improve your wellbeing.

If you have experienced mental health problems, you might decide to volunteer for a mental health organisation. Your personal experience could be an asset to the work you're doing and the organisation should be supportive and encouraging to you.

If you get support from the NHS, a charity or community organisation, there might be volunteer roles available. It can feel good to 'give back' to a place that has helped you, and your experience and knowledge could make you a valuable volunteer!

Whether you're taking on a role with a charity or offering to walk the neighbour's dog, being involved can help your wellbeing in lots of different ways.

Tips for volunteering

Citizens Advice has information for people who receive benefits and are worried how volunteering might affect their benefit claim. You can also contact the Welfare Rights Unit for advice in Leeds.

Organisations often offer reasonable travel expenses (bus fare) and lunch or refreshments expenses. You can ask about this when you're applying or there might be information on their website.

You might be offered a volunteer induction or have a volunteer co-ordinator. This means you can ask questions, get support and training. Remember that everyone is a bit nervous to start with – the team will be used to helping people settle in!

The good thing about volunteering is that you can go at your own pace and apply for work you will enjoy. If you have any worries or concerns, talk to the volunteer co-ordinator or supervisor/manager about how you feel. They might have another role you could try or be able to support you to develop your skills without feeling worried or stressed. Organisations want volunteers to be happy and productive!

If you want to explore volunteering opportunities and think about what sort of role might be right for you, you could use our Action Plan to help you get started. It helps you set goals, create ideas to achieve your goals, plan the steps you want to take and review how you're doing.

My Action Plan blank document to print and complete

My Action Plan example for volunteering

Where can I find volunteering opportunities?

Doing Good Leeds can help you find the right volunteering opportunity in Leeds. You can search on their website or visit or contact their Volunteer Centre.

Touchstone Community Volunteers Project supports anyone who wants to volunteer. They offer training and development for volunteers, with placements at Touchstone and partner organisations.

TCV The Conservation Volunteers at Hollybush undertake a wide range of conservation activities and provide lots of opportunities for volunteers. These include helping with activity and peer support groups with different needs, and also conservation activities with the Hollyvols.

Mentally Healthy Leeds is looking for volunteers over the age of 16 to help set up social groups and wellbeing activities. Download a poster for more information.

Do-it.org is a national website offering details of voluntary opportunities across the country. You can search for local roles or organisations and narrow it down by the sort of volunteering you want to do and when you're available. You can even find volunteer roles you can do from home.

vinspired is a volunteering charity with opportunities and information for 14-25 year olds. You can search for voluntary roles, apply for cash to solve problems in your area, and get a profile which can help when applying for college, university or jobs.

The Employer Supported Volunteering project at Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) helps companies and statutory organisations find volunteer opportunities with charities and non-profit organisations. These can be for individual employees to share their skills or teams of colleagues to spend a day doing practical activities like painting, gardening or supporting an event. To find out more, contact VAL by email at esv@val.org.uk. There may be a charge to the employer for this service.

Volunteering during the coronavirus outbreak

City wide volunteering programme

Voluntary Action Leeds has set up a COVID-19 community volunteer programme with Leeds City Council. This offers a range of ways people can help in a coordinated and safe way during the COVID-19 outbreak. You can sign up online, email info@val.org.uk. please go to Become a Community Care Volunteer to help with COVID-19 for more information.

Being a good neighbour

Supporting one another has never been more important than it is now. There are lots of ways you can help in your community and support neighbours, during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond. Download the Being a Good Neighbour Pack, produced by Voluntary Action-Leeds, for tips to safely help others.

Become a Winter Friend

A Winter Friend is someone you can count on, who is a friendly and helpful member of the community and genuinely cares about the wellbeing of the people around them. Find out more on the Winter Friends website.

NHS Christmas volunteering campaign

The NHS and Royal Voluntary Service have partnered with Christmas Together to recruit volunteers across England. They're looking for people who are willing to support others who feel isolated this Christmas and during the winter. Register now to be an NHS Volunteer Responder or see their website for more information: https://nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk/christmastogether

Learn more

NHS Moodzone - helping and supporting others towards a shared goal is good for our mental wellbeing. They have ideas for small acts and bigger commitments that help you to get involved.

Mental Health Foundation (MHF) - has a booklet you can download for free called Doing Good Does You Good. The booklet has tips, ideas and links to help you try activities, big or small, that make you feel good.

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