This week, Cornerstone House Centre recognises the enduring contributions that volunteers make to the Greater Cumbernauld area and encourages more local people to join their ranks.
Volunteers’ Week takes place from 1-7 June every year, with the aim of recognising, rewarding and celebrating the good work done by millions of individuals, teams and organisations across the UK that give time to excelling in a volunteering capacity.
We are living in a moment that calls for hope, light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another. Volunteers provide all three. That’s why Cornerstone House Centre is championing the importance of volunteering within Greater Cumbernauld socially, culturally, environmentally and economically.
The tremendous power of volunteers and volunteerism has been on dramatic display in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic over the past 15 months. Locally, retired doctors and nurses, students and school children, people from local companies and countless others have give their time and talents to administer vaccines, boost testing, initiate life-saving public health measures, and provide food, clothing, and other necessities to those at heightened risk so they can remain safely at home.
Throughout this unprecedented time, people in Cumbernauld have given help and hope by checking on isolated older people, helping the jobless and putting their own health at risk to aid others in need. Their compassion reminds us that even in our darkest hours, Cumbernauld is a tight-knit community and its people look out for one another.
Cornerstone House Centre, in its role as a Community Anchor Organisation, firmly believes that volunteering is the backbone of a strong civil society. When volunteers step forward to help, it renews our sense of community and strengthens our resilience. Acts of service unite people from different backgrounds and allow us to truly see and hear one another. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, remarked:
“The benefits of volunteering are well understood across the community. On one hand, organisations on the receiving end receive the help, the time, the interaction and the tasks completed by someone not looking to get paid for their work.
“For volunteers, there is the feel-good factor of knowing their time and contributions are helping someone in need. It’s a powerful dynamic with valuable rewards for everyone involved.
“By helping others, volunteers also help themselves. They learn new skills, expand their professional networks, connect with neighbours, and experience the satisfaction that comes from serving a larger cause.
“Volunteering can provide a pathway to employment, education, and other career-building opportunities. As we emerge from pandemic times, volunteering can undoubtedly help unemployed people find work and make our communities stronger. Volunteering plays an enormous and sometimes unseen role in our economy and the broader community.
“At its heart, volunteering is a selfless gesture. It’s a way of giving time, offering your skills or lending resources to someone who could use the help. It’s a valuable way to build community, encourage collaboration and strengthen social connectivity.
“It’s no surprise, then, that more than 15,000 Cumbernauld citizens volunteer their time each year. To each one of these people, we offer our thanks and encourage you to continue to give of your time for the benefit of the local area over the coming period.”
As we celebrate the extraordinary volunteers who donate their time and talents year-round, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub views this as a time to amplify the importance of volunteerism not only as a generous gesture of goodwill and selflessness, but also as a way of improving health and wellness.
There are both tangible and immeasurable benefits to volunteering. Feeling valued, longevity and personal connection are some of the takeaways and, significantly, volunteering can also reduce the risk of depression. A snapshot of the ways in which volunteering benefits both mental and physical health is captured below.
VOLUNTEERING: GOOD FOR THE MIND AND THE BODY
Research from Volunteer Scotland has shown that volunteering leads to lower rates of depression, especially for individuals aged 65 and older. Volunteering increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common interests, both of which have been shown to decrease depression. Moreover, evidence illustrates that volunteering benefits people through higher self-esteem and a greater sense of wellbeing.
Interestingly, volunteering has been shown to counteract stress, anger and anxiety. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on a person’s overall psychological wellbeing. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person. The personal satisfaction that many volunteers experience has also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
It has also been evidenced than volunteering boosts people’s feelings of being happy. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.
Volunteering also increases self-confidence. Through doing good for others and the community, a natural sense of accomplishment follows. Volunteering can also give people a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
Equally, volunteering provides a sense of purpose. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated and add more zest to your life.
It is also widely acknowledged that volunteering can help you stay physically healthy. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Notably, people with disabilities or long-term health conditions can benefit exponentially from volunteering. Research has shown that adults with conditions ranging from hearing and vision loss to heart disease, diabetes and digestive disorders all show improvement after volunteering.
Individuals interesting in volunteering in the Cumbernauld area can do a search for current opportunities available locally by visiting the Volunteer Scotland website at www.volunteerscotland.net.
Meanwhile, volunteering opportunities are available in a multitude of areas at Cornerstone House Centre, including administration, marketing, events management, Community Space coordination, finance, driving, employability, family development and social media. For more details, telephone the organisation on 01236 739220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.