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It’s official. Volunteering is good for you!

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Slide6It’s official. Volunteering is good for you! 

While we have long been proponents of the positive impact that volunteering can have on individuals and communtities, the OECD has now placed volunteering at the heart of its latest research.  A new report, How’s Life?, describes the essential ingredients that shape people’s wellbeing in OECD and partner countries. It includes a wide variety of statistics, including capturing a range of data on volunteering.

Given the varied nature of data collection and definitions of volunteering across the OECD, concrete data can be hard to collate. However, it is clear that there are a number of universal benefits to volunteering felt across all OECD countries. 

When we think of volunteering we often think of the benefit to the service user or even charities. But what about the impact on the volunteer? According to the OECD, the impact is pretty significant.

Volunteering helps people to acquire new skills, which supports their personal development and often has benefits in their professional life. Anecdotal links have always been drawn between volunteering and increased employability - and there’s no denying that volunteering is great way to develop skills. According to How’s life? Those who volunteer have higher skills and in some cases can earn up to 14% more than non-volunteers. 

On a more subjective level, the 2013 American Time Use survey explored the correlation between happiness and volunteering activities. Those that volunteered reported higher levels of life satisfaction and on average experienced an extra hour of happiness a day on days when they volunteered. The connection between volunteering and health and wellbeing cannot be understated. Volunteering is a unique way to give back to the community and provides many volunteers with a sense of purpose and satisfaction.

It allows the volunteer to make a real difference in their local area, to meet new people and to interact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Slide8Statistics like the above are great and can provide us with hard data, but what about real life? A great example of the real impact of volunteering can be seen with Western Care, a group for adults with intellectual disabilities in Ballina. They now volunteer with the local Arts Centre as promotional assistants. They love volunteering as they take up genuine and meaningful roles in their local communities where they get to know people and “be known” in their own right as individuals and they also enjoy chatting with people around town. Volunteering has made a significant positive impact on their lives.

Many people would like to volunteer but are yet to take the first step. With such a wealth of benefits and nothing to lose, why delay? Visit www.volunteerwestmeath.ie or contact Michelle Raleigh at 044-9348571 to start your volunteering journey today.