Cheers For Volunteers!

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“Ordinary people have changed the world time and time again. They don’t do it by sitting at home alone, they do it by joining up with other people.”  – Johann Hari

The 40th anniversary of Volunteers’ Week in the UK runs between 3rd and 9th June, and represents the perfect opportunity to celebrate the amazing contributions volunteers make around the Deans and the Havens!

I am blown away by the community spirit I have found here. Day after day I meet people volunteering locally, regularly or ad hoc. In person or online, at school, in the office, in a place of worship, a sports club, carehome, on the beach, in a communal garden and at the other end of the phone, the list goes on!

In addition to volunteering through groups, clubs, and organisations, I’ve discovered that more than half the UK’s population is involved in informal volunteering within their communities. It is often not visible, and chances are you have been doing it yourself, in one way or another; feeding the neighbour’s cat, helping a student with professional experience in your business, weeding around the local tennis courts, picking up a prescription for a neighbour or watering a garden which is not yours.

I like to say that you can’t give a hug without receiving one too. … well volunteering has the same mutually beneficial effect. 

Research shows that volunteering has a powerful impact on our health, purpose and engagement. It:

Improves our mood, boosts motivation, and positive emotions and reduces stress

Ignites growth, learning new skills, stretching our comfort zone, and stimulating our brains

Increases physical activity, keeping us active

Offers social interactions and connections, which can generate long-lasting friendships. It is a natural networking opportunity too

Strengthens community ties, by having a direct impact on others’ lives, it can also create a sense of belonging 

Creates purpose in life, it is an excuse to use your unique skills, find meaning and clarify your sense of direction

A few years ago I joined “A Touch of Gentleness”, a local, not-for-profit community of people committed to bringing ‘connection, touch, and gentleness’ back to society. Many hand massages later I am now training volunteers myself, and I would like to give a big shout-out to the Plough Inn in Rottingdean, East Sussex, who are huge supporters of local community initiatives and are hosting our monthly training.

Do you have:

A desire to help and inspire others, use your skills and meet new people with a common interest?

A cause that matters to you?

Spare time?

Then perhaps volunteering is for you.

Here are some ideas and local initiatives to get you started:

Picking up litter on the beach in Saltdean, Ovingdean and Rottingdean with GRAB

Giving a hand at the Saltdean Tennis Club (much work is done behind the scenes)

Helping at the community supermarkets and the Havens food collection

Watering a tree on the Saltdean Oval or in the Peacehaven Orchard 

Mentoring a young woman or young carer with Flourish Mentors

Welcoming visitors to the Lido

Marshalling at the Park Run in Peacehaven

Offering free hand massages in carehomes, hospices and local events with A Touch of Gentleness

If you are short of time, you can donate to a volunteer organisation of your choice so they can keep training their volunteers and supporting the initiatives they work for.

Volunteering is time well spent and has the power to transform us, which ripples into the communities for the better. I can’t imagine a better time to become involved in a more mindful and deliberate way.

The next free 1-day training to be a volunteer with A Touch of Gentleness will take place in:

Hastings on 3rd June, and Rottingdean on 13th June.

Individually and collectively let’s dare to be the change we want to see in our organisation, family, community and life!

#volunteersweek  #thankyouday


Words: Mathilde Barbier

Pre-Peri-Menopause Wellbeing Practitioner and Coach

You’ve reached that life phase where your thermostat is more unpredictable than the weather, your brain as foggy as the South Downs on a winter morning and your mood swings higher than the pendulum ride on the Brighton Pier?

Mid-life doesn’t have to be wild and mad!

Gentleness can hide in our biggest challenges.

Get in touch to chat about the tumultuous, yet empowering, midlife transformation

Together we will explore ‘the change’ with gentleness, self-compassion and humour.

mathilde[@] – 07947 319 362

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