The Benefits of Volunteering and How You Can Join Us Going Forward
In the 12 months since COVID-19 came to our shores we have seen so many changes to our lives. Many have suffered and grieved because of the pandemic, whether from illness or the impact of restrictions.
However, this has also brought out the best in many people, pulling them together to help their communities. Think about Sir Tom Moore walking around his garden to raise millions for the NHS, small businesses providing free meals for children who need them, or the countless individuals helping to vaccinate or feed the vulnerable.
Volunteering in the Community
Active Devon’s own Emma Kessie is an inspiring example of going above and beyond to volunteer. In normal times she volunteers at a local run group she founded. However, since the start of the pandemic she has been volunteering as an NHS responder, delivering food and prescriptions to vulnerable people. More recently she has also been volunteering as a Marshall for a local vaccine centre.
Such an amazing response from volunteers has undeniably had a positive impact on those they have helped, but what about the impact on the volunteers themselves? What have they got out of it? Emma said:
“Volunteering has given me freedom that I would not have had during the lockdowns. It means I can get out of the house, and it really gives me a boost to my mood. We also found a lot of people gave back when my family needed that help.”
It’s Good for Our Health
It is clear Emma has a really positive view of her volunteering. This is no surprise as volunteering is an example of one of the five ways to wellbeing – giving to others. As Mind’s website states “Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.”
This is also true in the world of sport and activity. Sport England’s latest Active Lives Children Survey found a positive association between all mental wellbeing measures and volunteering to support sport and physical activity.
COVID-19 Impact on Volunteering in Activity and Sport
While COVID-19 has brought many new opportunities to volunteer, it has also taken away many of the ways people supported others to be active. As we get back to normal, what will the overall effect on volunteering in our sector be? Will all the new volunteers look for new ways to keep giving? Will we lose volunteers who have found other ways to spend their time?
In a recent Club Matters, Return to Sport/Activity Volunteers report it shows that 71% of volunteers continued to volunteer in some capacity. Increased levels of anxiety appeared to influence volunteering behaviour and volunteers are at risk of not returning to their role due to higher levels of anxiety.
When restrictions start to ease and group activity can return, communication will be vital to ensure that volunteers feel safe and at ease with the next steps.
When volunteers were asked what they are most looking forward to, it was seeing their friends and members of their community and the joy of seeing members and children participate in the activity. Lockdown has left many people craving more social interaction and one of the benefits of group activity and sport is the wholesome feeling of connection around a similar interest.
The Sport and Physical Activity sector has one of the biggest volunteering bases. Volunteers are critical in supporting local communities to thrive, socialise, connect, learn new skills all whilst taking part in an activity you enjoy. Volunteers are at the heart of their local community and are critical to keeping their local group/club going especially over the past 12 months.
Would You Like to Volunteer for Your Local Community Sport or Activity Group?
The pandemic has helped to show the value, contribution, commitment and coming together of volunteers in our communities and the power that has on our society. The activity and sport sector will need more support than ever to help recover and reignite groups and clubs across the Country and of course our incredible County of Devon.
There are many roles that people can play to help re-activate their local group or club from coaching and leading, taking registers, marshalling at your local park run and being someone to meet and greet new people. Every role is as important as the next and with more supporters it will help to share the capacity challenges that we may face as we come out of this next lockdown.
If you would like more information about volunteering, or are considering volunteering, we’d love to hear from you. Please do get in contact with Louise Evans – Active Devon’s Workforce Lead, via our Contact Form.