How volunteering can help with loneliness

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The Lonliness Problem

The past two years have showed us that we need each other more than ever. Whether you’re a student who studies online or a visitor who is not able to pop into the library, we’re all being impacteded one way or another. Our interactions with others were limited, and even non-existent for many people during the pandemic. Fast forward to today, post-pandemic fatigue is happening all around. Some students may have felt like their university years are being taken away from them. The lack of social interaction with course mates, and little opportunity to meet new people. These lack of interactions have led to a world-wide epidemic of loneliness, which over time can negatively impact our mental health. Want to know how volunteering can help with loneliness? Read on.

Could volunteering be a solution?

You can choose how much time you want to spend and where you want to go. From volunteering at your local foodbank, charity shop or care home; on the weekend, every Wednesday evenings, or weekday mornings; there’s something for everyone.

Examples of Volunteering

You can volunteer in so many different ways, and for causes you really care about – whether that’s working with young people; social justice; the environment; animals – you name it and there’s volunteering for it! There are also lots of ‘befriending’ volunteering opportunities, providing companionship and supporting someone who is isolated and lonely perhaps because of their age or mobility. Other forms of volunteering can include accompanying them on trips out, playing games, practising your language skills, or just being there to chat to.

The benefits of volunterering

There are many benefits that come with volunteering to help combat loneliness. The biggest and most important one is meeting new people who are in the same boat. These interactions can bring back that feeling of connectivity after being disconnected for so long.

Volunteering in any setting builds your social skills as you interact with a range of people from various backgrounds. Volunteering can help in strengthing community ties, making you feel valued; all of which is key in promoting better mental health.

Immersing yourself into volunteering can lead to an increase of self-confidence as you feel a sense of fulfilment, happiness, and better mental health, all of which positively impact your physical health. If you’re feeling shy, you can ask a friend, flatmate, or family member to tag along and volunteer as a group. The more people engaging in volunteering the more we strive for a happier and healthier society.

In addition, gaining valuable skills through volunteering can benefit your professional personal development and looks great on your CV. It shows future educational establishments and employers that you’re passionate about spending your time to give back to others, and have life-long skills in communication and teamwork. Read more here about the skills you can develop.

Get involved

We hope you enjoyed reading about how volunteering can help with loneliness. To get involved more, you can visit TARGETConnect where organisations post their volunteering roles frequently in and around Stirling; current students can also get involved in volunteering through our Students’ Union.

You can also try reaching out to organisations you would like to volunteer at by emailing or visiting them and asking about upcoming opportunities. Stirling Voluntary Enterprise (SVE) is Stirling’s third sector interface, and advertise 100s of local opportunities. Similarly Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface advertise volunteering across Clackmannanshire – many of which are just a short walk or bus ride away from campus. For national volunteering opportunities, a great place to start is Do-It which has thousands of volunteering opportunities.

By Sumaira Ud-Din, Careers Crew Intern, for Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

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