The power of helping others and its influence on my mental health

This Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June 2021), we’re exploring the mutually beneficial experience of giving your time to volunteering. Sarah, our fantastic colleague and Partnerships Manager, shares her story of how her endeavours helping others ultimately helped her.


When I was younger, I always enjoyed getting involved in activities which were connected to a community programme or a charity but as I got older, my life become a little more routine. Go to work Monday to Friday, see friends at the weekend. And although both of these gave me a different level of joy, I always felt a little unfulfilled.

I missed being around people with different life experiences to mine and giving my time to something that would help impact others in a positive way. At first, I thought I didn’t have the time to give but I knew something was missing and I had to make time, as this was having a negative effect on my mental health.

I had no idea where to start but that’s when I found Do-IT – a website that connects people to volunteering opportunities all across the country and takes into account the day and times you could make yourself available. It was then, that I found D.I.S.C – a youth club for children with hearing difficulties whose aim was to include all deaf people in the community. The youth club provided a safe and fun environment where deaf young people could relax and develop into independent, confident, self-sufficient individuals, without the usual barriers that deaf people face in society.

The youth club ran once a week which was the right level of commitment for me. I met some wonderful volunteers who had been involved with the group for years and soon became confidants that I could learn from. I also met some amazing young people who were funny, kind and just a joy to be around.

I may have given my time but they game me so much more. The experience gave me the endorphins I needed at a time when I was feeling really flat. A hole I had felt for years, was suddenly filled with fulfilment, laughter, learning and gratitude.

When I relocated 3 years later, my time at the club had to come to an end but I have since volunteered at GOSH and with a local programme for disabled children to provide a few hours of respite for parents each week.

Despite not feeling as though I had the time to commit when I was feeling low at the start, I pencilled this time in for me. It was my time to do something I enjoyed, that would make me happy. It enabled me to give, yet receive an abundance of satisfaction and joy in return.

I enjoyed volunteering with young people but there are so many different opportunities out there. I didn’t need a skillset to work with young people – just a DBS check, a passion to have fun and raise the spirits of others, and some compassion.

My volunteering had such a positive impact on my mental health and I am forever grateful for the opportunities from these programmes, which allowed me to be part of something and to give back.

Whatever your physical or practical skills are, if your work has a volunteering scheme or there’s a local programme looking for support near you, check it out. There might just be something that brings you happiness in return and supports your wellbeing, like it did me.

Your donation will make the difference

Just £10 could help pay for a call to our advice and information line, supporting someone living with mental illness who may be feeling in distress during this time.

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