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Updated: Mar 27, 2021

Volunteering is a great way to meet others, gain confidence and discover your interests and hobbies. I have volunteered with many different charities, both in the UK and abroad, all in the name of either wildlife or mental health.

My longest voluntary role was in an RSPCA retail shop from 2012 to 2017. The team I worked with became my close friends and I enjoyed chatting to customers, who shared my love of animals. It was great to work as part of a team - I love company and learning from others. I had to leave when I moved away, but had purchased many keepsakes from my time there, including a wolf face top which I wore during brain surgery for luck. I currently help at a British Heart Foundation charity shop, sorting donations and helping at the till. Behind the scenes or serving customers, shops are a great way to meet people and be part of your community.

I loved volunteering at an Alzheimer’s day centre from 2017-2019. I had a lovely time playing board games and doing creative activities with the dear old members. I felt I was a doing a wonderful thing, helping them be happy, reinforcing their brain activity and giving their families a break. Chatting with members was really nice; they would enjoy telling me about the past, events and experiences they remembered. It was always very touching when they would recognise me despite their memory problems. In the end, my freelance dog walking was taking up more of my time, so I sadly decided to call it a day at the centre. But I plan to go back once the current lockdown is lifted and spare a day a week to help out. It was so rewarding and gave me purpose and I can’t wait to return.

In November 2020 I began volunteering at Bath City Farm, cleaning the pens and feeding and grooming the animals, which is so much fun. I studied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare at university. Animals are so therapeutic and being at the farm certainly helps my mental health. Who doesn’t feel better after a day of cuddling animals?! I love grooming the ponies, when they are in the mood for fuss and attention I could not feel more loved! My degree did not cover equine behaviour, but I just know that a head rub means ‘thank you’!

I have had dozens more voluntary roles over the years and you could get very bored reading about them all! My main incentive for volunteering is to feel a sense of purpose. It’s like the feeling I get when I’m up a mountain, but it’s close to home, relatable an everyday boost for mental health. Even without getting paid, it’s worth it to make a difference and connect with others. Have a look at volunteering roles where you are!

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