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Wellbeing in Wymondham:

Is Volunteering the Answer?

Samuel Dutton Published: 29 April 2022

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Volunteers working
Sam (right) volunteering at the Old Sale Yard.

As the sun comes out and the clouds dissipate, many of us find ourselves out and about after a long and dark winter. Many of us feel our spirits lifted by the light of the sun and the warm breeze on our skin, and we begin to forget our troubles even if merely for a moment.

But there are many also who find no respite for their worries, many who find themselves indoors without any reason to go out and enjoy the sun. It’s no secret that more and more people have become concerned with their mental wellbeing and so if you’re looking for a way to get your body moving and your spirits high, volunteer work might be the answer for you.

I endeavoured to find out what sort of volunteer work is available around Wymondham and to see what sort of impact it can have both on the individuals performing it as well as its effect on the community as a whole.

My first experience of volunteering around Wymondham was having a chat with the cheery folks at the Roots Community Café. The whole place is run by volunteers out of the Wymondham Baptist Church and is the perfect place to spend a Monday or Friday afternoon if you’re looking for a bit of communal of chit-chat or just popping over for a coffee. The volunteers there were more than welcoming to me and were happy to discuss how they believed volunteering could have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing.

One volunteer, Vic, went into great detail about some of the people the café has helped over time. While talking about what can be done to help those with mental health issues, he very humbly claimed that while we can’t fix someone else’s issues, we can listen to them. And for many in the community, simply having someone to talk to can be a great help. All of the volunteers at the café are willing to chat, but are even more willing to listen.

As for how volunteering affects the wellbeing of the volunteers, everyone I spoke to there claimed that it had given them a great sense of purpose and happiness to be able to brighten up someone else’s day. It only makes sense that giving back to the community can give someone a greater perspective on their own life and that became a trend as I asked other volunteering groups in Wymondham what they believe their effect on mental wellbeing is.

Roots Volunteer
Roots Cafe volunteer, Vic.

Having spoken to people from Cup-O-T, Greening Wymondham, Town Team and other volunteer groups I found very much the same thing. Everyone I spoke to claimed that volunteering was a massive or even essential part in keeping on top of their mental wellbeing. Reasons for this ranged from feeling part of a community of like-minded people, to spending more time outside, to feeling like they’ve made a positive impact on the community or on other people.

In my own experience, the volunteer work I’ve partaken in has given me a sense of comradery and togetherness that is often hard to come by these days. A few hours out of my day that left me feeling energised and reinvigorated. I can’t speak for everyone, but volunteer work proves to be an essential part of making Wymondham thrive.

But if this is the case, then how can we get more people into volunteering? That’s a question that has any number of answers. Most people simply don’t have the time after all, or do they? Are we thinking about this the right way? I created a survey asking people how often they think about their mental health and whether or not they volunteer.

Of those polled, over 70% of people responded that they don’t do any volunteer work. Of those who responded that they do regularly perform volunteer work, 40% claimed that it was essential to their mental wellbeing, a further 20% claimed it had a large positive impact on their mental wellbeing, while the final 40% claimed it had somewhat of a positive effect on their mental wellbeing.

Is it much of a stretch to say that for the over 50% of those polled who claimed their mental health was a daily concern, that it might be worth taking a couple of hours on the weekend to do something that could have a positive impact not only on their own wellbeing but on the community as a whole?

There is no single answer that will apply to everyone. But if you’ve never done volunteering work before and you have a couple spare hours here or there, it might just be worth your while to get out and give back to the community.

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