How can volunteering improve my mental health?
If you suffer from any kind of mental health problems, you are not alone.
One in four people in the UK will experience mental health problems of some kind each year. With the challenges we’ve all faced recently this is probably set to rise as the support structures that were dependent on face-to-face contact and on delivery by those vulnerable to COVID-19, were removed overnight.
We believe in the power of people supporting people. Tempo’s volunteer programmes provide a wide range of opportunities to meet people, learn new skills and reduce social isolation and loneliness alongside the community outreach projects.
Volunteers can offer support in a number of different ways with vacancies for administration, secretarial skills and support with social media alongside the more traditional, practical help. We also have online and telephone befriending opportunities so volunteers don’t necessarily need to be local to the organisation they’re supporting.
In our recent Impact Report covering 2022-21, we found over half of those canvassed volunteered more than once a week, with 25% offering more than 5 hours during that time.
Making volunteering a habit and creating that meaningful connection with the community not only provides a huge sense of accomplishment but significant health benefits to the individual too.
Our research shows:
- 83% of our Tempo volunteers reported improved mental health
- 81% felt less lonely and isolated
- 70% reported improved quality of life
- 68% reported improved physical health
On a larger scale having a vibrant volunteering network can prove beneficial to the wider community too. From the above figures, we can see significant improvements in the mental and overall health of our volunteers but our survey also covered the impact that these health benefits had on our volunteer’s use of local services.
The report found that
- over 63% now need to make less use of social care services
- 64% have less need to see their GP.
Both of these are not just positive, but also reduce the pressure on these two front line services. This impact of Tempo Time Credits has changed relatively little over the last four years highlighting the health benefits of volunteering to the wider community.
Helping to shape local services
We work with a range of local authorities, housing associations and health care providers to co-produce solutions that encourage more active involvement in the design and delivery of services and community-led activities. People who use services are best placed to help design them, which then makes them more efficient and targeted to the challenges they are looking to solve.
From our Impact Report, 76% of our volunteers believed they could now help to shape some of the services that they have used and 91% had a wider knowledge of the community services available to them.
This approach has been used successfully by Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group in their Involving Medway initiative. The program recognised an urgent need for radical innovation to engage communities and build a social movement within the health and care system. 730 people have now given more than 18,900 hours to their community since the programme started in 2017 with 72% reporting improved quality of life and 52% feeling more able to contribute to their community.
At Tempo we’re surrounded by stories from volunteers, charities and commissioners where volunteering has brought improved mental health benefits in the long term across the board. You can read more in our range of case studies.
We are proud of just how key volunteering is to our organisation. There is an invaluable impact that it has on our volunteers lives, both from the act of volunteering itself and the huge contribution it makes to our local communities.