Everyone knows that volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and make the world a better place, but did you know that there are also many health and wellbeing benefits for the volunteer themselves?

There are studies that show that helping others promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness. An act of kindness increases the production of serotonin which can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. This doesn’t even have to be a large gesture; the boost of serotonin can be triggered from something as small as offering your seat on a bus to a pregnant woman. The more you perform these altruistic acts the more these bursts of ‘happy hormones’ will occur, so in doing a favour for others you are also doing one for yourself.

Volunteering can also be a great way to help combat loneliness – a growing epidemic in the UK. According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics, 2.4 million adult British residents suffer from chronic loneliness. Loneliness can affect people at all ages and stages of life. It is associated with a variety of physical and mental health conditions and can be as harmful to a person’s health as 15 cigarettes a day. When you volunteer you are becoming part of a community, meeting and helping others on a regular basis creates meaningful connections. You can form new friendships and build a support system to help protect your well-being.

But that’s not all! There are also benefits to be gained to your physical health from volunteering. Studies of older people show that those who give support to others live longer than those who don’t. Older volunteers are less likely to develop high blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and have reported lessening symptoms of chronic pain.

Volunteering is suitable for everyone, no matter what stage of your life, and there are so many opportunities available that there is sure to be something that you would enjoy. The participants we have at The Fold come from all walks of life, they are school leavers looking for a productive way to fill their time between further education, or people who want to gain skills and experience for a career change, or retirees who have a passion for the environment and giving back to the community.

Here at The Fold we have valuable volunteering opportunities for self-starting individuals wanting to give something and be of service; From work on the farm and care farm, helping with marketing and events to creating a mural on the side of the maintenance shed. There are endless volunteer opportunities to suit a variety of skills available.

It can be hard to find any spare time in our busy lives, but volunteering even for a small amount of time can enrich both your own life and those of others.

Interested? – Please apply by emailing: volunteering@thefold.org.uk or visiting https://www.thefold.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering/ for more information.