Cerebral Palsy Sport believes passionately about our volunteers and also the power of volunteering to transform people’s lives. Our charity supports people with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities to discover the joys of sport and we could not do this without the incredible support from our volunteers.
There are many reasons why people offer their time to volunteer and national figures show that nearly 22 million people throughout Britain volunteer their time to support others , improve our communities and make an incredible contribution to our country’s economy.
Why do people volunteer?
For many people they volunteer as they are able to support the needs of those around them, or maybe the feel-good factor of doing things for others. There is also a wealth of evidence that shows that volunteering has positive impacts on the individual volunteer.
Here are several reasons why volunteering for a charity like Cerebral Palsy Sport may enable volunteers to experience wider benefits:
1. Supporting communities
By bringing people together from different parts of the community, volunteering has been shown to bring about a greater awareness in people of the issues faced by their community or society more generally, and develop a greater sense of belonging. Volunteers report that volunteering can enrich their sense of purpose in life and help them learn valuable things about the world, their community and about themselves.
2. Developing employability skills
The most obvious advantage is the opportunity to learn new occupational skills and get new experiences which will help individual’s employability. However, a volunteering role does not have to be related to our chosen career path – volunteering has been shown to help the development of critical workplace skills, including communication, leadership, delegation and problem solving.
3. Improving overall health
Volunteering England’s 2008 study on volunteering and health concluded that there was a clear link between volunteering and good health for volunteers. It concluded that engaging in volunteering can increase longevity, improve mental health, keep people fitter, and enable them to cope better with illness when it occurs.
4. Reducing stress
Many studies have also shown that volunteering reduces the incidence of depression and stress. 78% of people surveyed in the US who had volunteered in the previous 12 months said that volunteering had improved their mood and lowered their stress levels.
5. Supporting personal development
Volunteering can have benefits for people’s personal development. Building self-esteem and confidence are frequently referred to, as are experiencing a sense of achievement and personal satisfaction from being a part of something meaningful, helping others, and seeing the positive results of the work carried out. Several published studies have shown that youth who participate in volunteer activities tend to engage less in risk-taking behaviours such as smoking, drinking alcohol and using illicit drugs.
6. Increasing happiness
Researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of adults. They found the more people volunteered, the happier they were.
7. Making friends and expanding networks
Volunteering can provide an opportunity to make friends with people from different backgrounds and cultures and help to build understanding and community cohesion. In these days of social media, many people find volunteering is a great way to interact with people in the real world, and to get away from the computer screen.