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Getting started with Volunteering

The NHS’s 5 Steps to Wellbeing advice suggest connecting with other people, learning new skills and engaging in acts of kindness as ways to improve your own wellbeing. Which all sounds a bit like volunteering.

It’s perhaps no surprise that 76% of our volunteers said their happiness and general well-being had improved because of their involvement in volunteering opportunities.

Other studies have found similar results. NCVO’s 2019 Time Well Spent survey found that over three-quarters of volunteers had improved their mental health through getting involved. A review of research by The University of Wales found that volunteering can reduce depression, stress and psychological distress, amongst other health benefits. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau found that 3 in 5 of their volunteers felt less stressed as a result of volunteering, and 4 in 5 said it had improved their physical or mental well-being.

Justin-Davis Smith from NCVO has written an excellent blog about volunteering and happiness.

Of course, we also know that volunteering isn’t always easy – by its nature, you’re often dealing with challenging situations. That’s why we put a lot of effort into finding good quality, well-run volunteering opportunities. All of our partners have signed up to a code of standards and we keep in touch with volunteers, supporting them to overcome difficulties if needed.

What UCL students say:

Lara Parienti is studies BSc Applied Medical Sciences student and is a Patient Anti-Boredom Volunteer at the UCH Cancer Centre: “ You take a break from your own life and everything that’s going on, and you just think about other people. 

Matthew Appleton is a BSc Geography student, and a volunteer befriender for Holborn Community Association: ”The nicest thing is the friendship developed - for instance exchanging cards at Christmas and getting coffees together, makes you feel that you’ve gained a friend as well as gaining volunteering experience.”

Sarah Wong is a medical student, and volunteers as a Mentor at the Refugee Therapy Centre in Holloway: ”It’s such a good opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds and really learn how to appreciate the things we take for granted, to gain insight into things that usually escape us.”

Tara Nelson is in her first year studying BASc Arts and Sciences. She volunteered for Action Against Hunger and UCL’s Dance Society’s charity showcase: “When you do it you’re never tired; you remember why you’re there, you’re doing it for a good cause, and the exhaustion only hits when you get home, and it’s more like a buzz to know you’ve done something useful with your Friday night, and you can tell your flatmates about it. I think it’s just the feeling you get with volunteering, there’s nothing else you can really do to get that feeling.”

How to get involved

The Volunteering Service makes it as easy as possible to volunteer, and we have a wide range of opportunities available. To find out how to get involved, visit our ‘Getting Started’ page.