Give your time
Volunteering may be a great way of helping others but it’ll do you the world of good too, says Sarah Brealey.
More than 24,000 people volunteer for the British Heart Foundation, a contribution of time that accounts for around £40m of our income every year. But their impact goes far beyond money. Without their support, we simply wouldn’t be able to do the life-saving work that helps thousands of people living with heart conditions each year.
If you’re a volunteer – or thinking of becoming one – you’re probably motivated by wanting to help others, but the magical thing about volunteering is that it does wonders for you too. Here’s why it makes sense to offer your services.
Volunteering can help you stay physically active, depending on what you decide to do. Imagine moving stock or stretching to arrange the shelves in a shop, or walking around as you help out at an event.
And volunteering can do wonders for your sense of wellbeing. In fact, people who volunteer report an experience that’s become known as the ‘helper’s high’. This is a rush of euphoria like the one we get after we’ve done physical activity and, once the initial rush is over, we are left with a lasting sense of calm. This feeling can return hours or even days later when we think about what we’ve done.
I’ve met other wonderful volunteers and made really good friends
We all depend on other people, but sometimes in modern society it’s easy to feel disconnected from those around you. Giving your time is a great way to connect with your community.
You’ll meet other volunteers, some who will have been through similar experiences to you or your family. And of course, you’ll meet the people who benefit from your efforts. It’s a great way to make new friends.
Skills and interests
Volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to use the skills you already have for the benefit of others. But even if you’ve retired, it’s never too late to learn. You could develop a skill you already have, or you might discover a passion for something completely new. Helping to create shop displays may give you an interest in interior design, or perhaps doing the budget for a fundraising event will develop your ability with numbers. And if you’re thinking of a career change, this is a perfect way to explore new fields and gain experience.
Above all, volunteering is something you actively choose to do. That’s why it’ll leave you with a sense of achievement.
Angela Green, 65, (pictured above), a retired teaching assistant from Kent, has volunteered for 35 years. She says: "I started volunteering for the BHF in 1977 after my son James was born with a heart problem. He had open-heart surgery at five months old – he went in a little blue baby and came out a pink baby. The difference was amazing and he’s never looked back since.
"For me, the biggest reason to volunteer is to give something back to the BHF. But I also really enjoy it, otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed involved for so long. I’ve met other wonderful volunteers and made really good friends."
Help us beat heart disease
Being a volunteer in one of our high street shops or furniture and electrical stores is a great way to meet local people. We also have fundraising groups that do various activities. Some of our most vital volunteering roles only take an hour or two, such as campaigning, helping with street collections or marshalling at a BHF event. Or why not organise your own fundraising event with friends and family, or get a collection of goods together for your nearest BHF shop or furniture and electrical store? Whatever you choose to do, you can be certain that you’ll be part of a great team, all working together to beat heart disease.
Visit our volunteering page, call 0300 456 8353 or pop into your local British Heart Foundation shop.