Volunteer to help others
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.
What you will learn in this section:
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
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.
Where can I find volunteering opportunities?
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.
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 email@example.com. There may be a charge to the employer for this service.
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.