Being a volunteer has lots of benefits. It can bring meaning and purpose to your life, while increasing your self-esteem and wellbeing. Volunteering can also relieve stress, and alleviate symptoms of depression. As well as having a positive impact on your community, volunteering can improve your relationships too.
Volunteering is an activity that someone chooses to do without being paid. It can be formal or informal. Informal volunteering includes helping friends and family with things like babysitting, home repairs or caring. Formal volunteering usually takes place through a charity or other not-for-profit or community organisation.
There are many organisations that actively seek volunteers. These include:
- animal welfare organisations like the RSPCA
- organisations interested in conservation – see www.conservationvolunteers.com.au or call 1800 032 50
- organisations and charities that look after vulnerable people, like the Australian Red Cross, The Smith Family, the Starlight Children’s Foundation, UnitingCare Australia, and Meals on Wheels
- other community organisations like state emergency services, rural fire services and Surf Life Saving Australia
- organisations that take volunteers overseas, like Projects Abroad, World Youth International and Australian Volunteers International.
What do you hope to get out of volunteering?
Volunteering can be very meaningful and enjoyable, and in turn be good for your mental health and wellbeing.
- give you a sense of achievement and purpose
- help you feel part of a community
- help you feel better about yourself by improving your self-esteem and confidence
- help you share your skills, learn new skills and create a better work-life balance
- help combat stress, loneliness and social isolation, and depression
- help you meet new people, which can help you feel more connected and valued.
Social benefits of volunteering
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and build healthy relationships. It strengthens your ties to the community and exposes you to people with similar interests.
Volunteering also gives you the opportunity to practise and develop your social skills.
Because volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others, it can also help you develop a solid support base. As well as helping to protect you against stress and depression, volunteering can help with mental health recovery.
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Last reviewed: September 2017