The New Year is just days away, and for people across Northern Ireland that means just one thing: New Year’s resolutions, yet another round of promises to overhaul our lives and do better next time.
ut instead of launching into another weight loss plan, drawing up plans to travel the world or taking up darts, why not try volunteering, something that will truly transform your life in 2023 — and help others while you’re at it. For as well as the incredible impact volunteering makes on all our communities, the benefits are huge for volunteers, too.
From boosting social interaction and improving wellbeing to offering the chance to learn a world of new skills, volunteering can be just as beneficial for those who give up their time for others as it is for the people and organisations they help.
And now, as we head towards the New Year, Volunteer Now, the lead organisation for volunteering in Northern Ireland, is calling for new volunteers to sign up and change their lives and the lives of others in 2023.
“Volunteering requires time, energy, commitment and hard work, but it can bring enormous joy and fulfilment to those who get involved,” says Denise Hayward, Chief Executive at Volunteer Now.
“We live in extremely challenging times; so volunteers providing support and building connections within our communities are vital. There are so many benefits that come with volunteering,
“I hope it’s something more and more people across Northern Ireland will consider in 2023.”
Here, Denise explains just some of the many benefits that come with volunteering.
1. Make connections
Build meaningful friendships with people you meet through volunteer work. While it’s clear how the people in receipt of help feel the benefit of interaction, volunteer workers feel it too, with the opportunity to meet new people across a span of age groups and backgrounds, opening doors socially and combatting the risk of loneliness and isolation.
2. Get active
You’ll never be bored if you’re a volunteer because there will almost be more to do. And with a huge range of volunteering opportunities available — Volunteer Now has connected almost 7,000 volunteers with more than 1,800 organisations across Northern Ireland since the launch of its pioneering ‘Be Collective’ volunteering platform in 2020 — there’s a perfect fit out there for everyone.
Find the role with the level of activity and involvement that suits your lifestyle and interests, and get stuck in.
3. Find a sense of purpose
There’s nothing more crucial to our sense of self-worth than having a purpose and direction in life.
Volunteering promises these things in buckets. With somewhere to go on a regular basis, people to meet and important duties to carry out, your road through life will find a solid path when you sign up to volunteer.
4. Learn new skills
You’re never too old to learn something new, and having another string to your bow is only ever a good thing.
Whether that’s honing your social skills as you chat to more people, learning how to delegate or improving your problem-solving capacity, ever new experience will have a positive impact on you.
Volunteer Now also runs a number of training courses in areas like safeguarding, governance and volunteer management. For some volunteers the acquisition of extra knowledge will mean a boost to their mood and brain power.
For others, it will mean inspiration for a new direction in life, another skill to include on the CV and doors opening into better career opportunities.
5. Boost your confidence
By doing good for others and contributing to your community, your role as a volunteer will naturally bring with it a sense of pride an accomplishment. The camaraderie that comes with working as part of a team can also help volunteers feel confident in the work they do with a solid support network in place — not to mention the discovery of new and amazing talents along the way.
6. Give something back
At the heart of volunteer work, of course, are the people and communities we work with. We all know the saying that it’s better to give than receive, and from our experience at Volunteer Now, that’s true.
7. Have some fun
Regularly meeting up with people who share similar interests means a whole range fun-filled of possibilities will open up for you because as serious as volunteering can sound, there is lots of scope for great craic, too. Share laughs with the people you work with and sign up to take part in the many fun, fulfilling activities run regularly by charities.
8. How to get involved
There are many ways to get involved through Volunteer Now. As well as connecting with organisations across Northern Ireland from Assisi Animal Sanctuary to the Red Cross through the Be Collective platform, at Volunteer Now we are also need volunteers for a number of roles.
Volunteer Befrienders are needed in the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust area to match with an older person for regular visits to build a friendship and help combat social isolation.
Volunteer Now is also looking for Volunteer Drivers to take clients to and from their homes for appointments in Belfast, while in Ards and North Down, Volunteer Drivers are needed to transport ‘looked after’ children to school or contact visits.
As we head towards 2023, people are in need of support in communities right across Northern Ireland, making volunteers the backbone of our society.
Could this be your time to get involved?
To find out more about Volunteer Now and to get involved visit www.volunteernow.co.uk
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