In the Cambridge Independent published on Wednesday 23rd November 2022, volunteer Sara Shaw shares what she gains by giving some of her time and expertise to CCF.
As we approach the end of another year, our thoughts and actions often turn inward as we hunker down and prepare for Christmas. The last two have been challenging due the pandemic, and this year many of us face the financial burden of higher food and energy prices which, ironically, may mean we’ll reduce our carbon footprint by lowering thermostats and limiting use.
Another interesting consequence of adversity happened during the pandemic when thousands of us volunteered or carried out acts of kindness in our neighbourhoods. We were a nation briefly united in what was termed a ‘Blitz Spirit’ of altruism, and the psychological benefits of these selfless acts helped counter the inevitable stress and isolation of that time by providing purpose and routine. Indeed, studies show that volunteering has a potent effect on our mental health and reduces depression and loneliness by boosting happiness and forging connections through social interaction. But the benefits don’t stop there.
What comes to mind when you think of volunteering? Shaking buckets, or clutching a clipboard while herding patients through a serpentine queue? Roles that don’t require expertise? Or maybe you recall the nurses who came out of retirement to staff the temporary hospitals or give vaccinations? Roles that require expertise and qualifications? It can be so much more.
As a teacher with a long summer holiday ahead, I decided to volunteer in July this year in the environmental sector I am passionate about. I have planted trees, and I do my bit by recycling, reducing plastic use and food waste, but suffer the common environmental anxiety of am I doing enough? A quick Google led me to CCF’s page and their request for help with ‘Comms’.
Comms? I thought, but I don’t have the IT skills.
We’ll teach you, they said. And they did.
So each week I pop into the office where I have my own desk and PC at which I create webpages, newsletters, and this article. I feel part of their supportive team, I’m learning a lot and I am proud to be facilitating others’ reduction of their carbon footprint.
Cambridge Carbon Footprint is one of many charities that depend on volunteers to deliver their support. So, as Christmas comes and goes and the season of resolution is upon us, why not resolve to volunteer and brighten those dark days by giving and receiving skills and knowledge whilst boosting your mental wellbeing – and your CV.