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Step 13 – I volunteered

An opportunity arose in the shape of an advert from my local Age UK. At work, despite putting in more and more hours, I felt as if I was achieving less and I didn’t feel valued. I had an informal conversation with someone at the charity and immediately felt welcome.

My volunteering with them involved only a couple of days a month but was so worthwhile. I learned new skills and was also able to give back from my own experience. I worked with older people in my NHS day job but as a volunteer, I gained a different and more comprehensive perspective of some of the challenges that older people face – and how difficult life can be for many.

Helping others gives me a feeling of satisfaction that I am doing ‘my little bit’ to improve the lives of others. I was meeting new people and working as a team. All these things were mind-broadening and good for my own mental health.

With my interest in running, I now also marshal and help out at some outdoor events. It’s a win-win for me. I meet like-minded people with shared interests and provide mutual support. I always return from those days tired but happy.

Have you considered the benefits of volunteering? Giving something back to your community provides a great feeling and is recognised to improve mental wellbeing. Your input can also have a huge impact which you might not recognise until you do it.

If you wanted to find out more, your local volunteer centre will be able to provide information.

Before I had the children I had volunteered with a Stroke support group on a regular basis but moved to a new area and then with the children I hadn’t had the time as a working mum.

However, an opportunity come up and I someone I’d met through work suggested it might suit me.

Changing the quality of your thinking can change the quality of your life