Suffolk needs more volunteers 'right now' as research shows helping out improves mental health

Suffolk volunteering

Tim Holder from Suffolk Community Foundation says volunteers tell them how much they enjoy giving their time to charities - Credit: Matthias Zomer/GREGG BROWN

New research which shows the pandemic negatively impacted health in Britain’s poorest neighbourhoods, also showed that volunteering was identified as a health protector for those that stepped forward.

A Suffolk charity described the findings as a "win-win" because the county is in need of more people "right now" to help out across more than 5,000 charities.

The study, from The Royal Voluntary Service, found that a lack of strong social relationships impacts mental and physical health, a third of people living in poorest areas have no one to call on and pandemic volunteers report health improvements - bucking ONS national trends

Tim Holder, head of public affairs at Suffolk Community Foundation, said: "Volunteers will openly tell us how much they enjoy what they are doing, and they that they get at least as much back from the experience as they give from being a part of something positive for their community.

"The voluntary sector tell us that they simply couldn’t not continue with the vital work they do without the incredible valuable and free resources that volunteers bring. They need more volunteers right now and so does Suffolk.

"And finally, the variety of work that charities and community groups carry out is as diverse as the community in Suffolk that they serve.

"There really is a volunteering opportunity out there to suit everyone, something that will use skills to the best advantage and something that will bring genuine and lasting pleasure and fulfilment. What is everyone waiting for, it’s a win-win situation."

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The data, based on an analysis of 2,500 UK adults, identified more than a third (36%) of those in the most deprived areas have few if any people to call on for company.

People who volunteered in the most deprived areas had improved scores compared to those who didn’t volunteer for mental health (21% versus 13%), physical health (28% versus 14%) and general wellbeing (23% versus 13%). They were also considerably more likely to chat with their neighbours, socialise more and to gain confidence.

Catherine Johnstone CBE, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service said: “A civic minded nation is a happier and healthier nation. By encouraging and supporting volunteering in communities we can improve the lives of millions of people. No more so than in our most deprived communities.”

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