Have you caught the Christmas Bug?!

I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us this year – and to wish you the best Christmas ever.

You only  have to read the evaluation report from TimeBank’s own Back to Life project to realise what a huge difference volunteers make to people’s lives.

The external researchers who compiled the report said they found that young people recovering from mental illness built confidence, improved their quality of life and felt more ready to engage with society after taking part in this volunteer mentoring project.

One young woman said: “Before, I’d be in agony, I’d be in bed, and that is what my mentor helped me with. She got me out of the house, talking about it and it helped me get some ideas of what I wanted to do and put them in place.”

What isn’t always recognised however is how much volunteers themselves benefit from the experience. You can go into it with the desire to help people – or to enhance your CV. But pretty soon many volunteers find they get so much out of it that they don’t want to stop. It becomes addictive.

We encourage volunteers to rate their experiences on our ‘Trip Advisor’-style review system. People tell us how their confidence has increased, they’ve made new friends – and even improved their health. (In fact, recent research shows that volunteering has a whole range of health benefits, from helping you sleep better to boosting your immune system!)

Apparently, two-thirds of those who volunteer at Christmas ‘catch the bug’ and go on to volunteer again.

And that is the best news ever, because charities really do need volunteers throughout the year, not just at Christmas.

So why not make volunteering your New Year resolution?  If you sign up to the gym you probably won’t go, so sign yourself up to volunteer instead – you’ll get much more out of it.

Happy New Year!