Volunteering is good for you.
Don't just take it from us, hear from Alison, one of our volunteers who lives in Bristol and volunteers for various charities including the Marmalade Trust.
I’ve been volunteering for around 15 years; I suppose since my children left home. I wouldn’t say I had empty nest syndrome but looking back it was quite a peculiar time, you’re always needed and suddenly you’re not. I found myself with a bit more time on my hands and I like chatting to new people, which is why I started volunteering.
As well as the Marmalade Trust, I’ve done other volunteering including working on the committee of our local tennis club. Some of my volunteering has been on a specific day, which has been good as it has meant that I get to see the same people every week and build relationships with them.
It’s the same with Marmalade: you strike up a relationship with the people you volunteer for but it’s as much about the people who work for the charity - they’re your first contact when you start volunteering and they’re the ones you continue contact with - I think that’s great.
I don’t think you have to be lonely to volunteer but it is a good way to meet people with a shared interest, and there is no pressure to make friendships. That’s what I like about being a member of the tennis club, or any club, if you’re not socially confident or live alone you can come along and join in with people with shared interests and then someone might suggest going to the pub or having a cup of tea afterwards. There’s no pressure on you to initiate anything, or any worry about what people might think. When you’ve got a shared interest the relationships are simple.
I’m a very sociable person so I don’t mind walking into a room full of new people, but I can imagine that could feel rather terrifying. If you’d like to start volunteering, my advice would be to go along with someone you know who already does volunteering and observe what they do one day. It’s also important to do something you enjoy, find something you like or that you’re interested in.
My volunteering can range from thirty minutes a week to seven hours. I like volunteering for Marmalade; I get a buzz from knocking on someone’s door and dropping off something for Easter or Christmas and having a nice chat. The members are older, but people are people, many of them have such interesting stories to share.
I’ve got so much out of volunteering - it’s nice to feel useful and help others. I’d encourage anyone to volunteer, whatever their reasons or circumstances, it’s just about taking that first step.
Volunteer with us
At Marmalade Trust, there are lots of different ways to volunteer your time. You could help out at an event (we hold Christmas and summer parties for those experiencing loneliness in the Greater Bristol area); you could help out in our office with admin or any other special skill you have! Or you could deliver gifts to people's doorsteps and say hello, or become a Marmalade Companion and make a call each week.