In everyone’s rush to get ahead in this fast-paced age, it’s often very easy to have tunnel vision and forget about the communities around us. We don’t have time to stop and think about how our skills might be of use elsewhere. We don’t pause and look around to see if anybody needs a helping hand.
But it’s 2018, a new year and a fresh chance at improving ourselves. Many of us are slowing down and reflecting about what this new version of ourselves would look like. We hope that as you take stock and map out your resolutions, you’d consider adding volunteering to the list.
If you already plan on giving back to your communities this year by volunteering, then great! But if you’re still on the fence about it, allow us to convince you with these five pretty great reasons to go for it.
1. You gain new skills
You don’t have to worry about ‘wasting’ your time working for free when you volunteer. The truth is, you gain as much as you give, such as new skills and knowledge to apply anywhere, from your career to life in general.
If you volunteer for FoodCycle, you stand a chance of acquiring or improving skills like communicating with other people, organising, and delegating. You could learn how to cook or, if you already know the basics, you can challenge yourself in the kitchen. You’ll also be able to exercise creativity and resourcefulness as volunteers only get to decide what meals to prepare on the day, when they finally have ingredients from supermarkets on hand.
2. You get to meet new people
One of the best parts of volunteering is expanding your circle and, potentially, seeing what lies outside your comfort zone. At FoodCycle, you can build genuine relationships with your fellow volunteers and befriend guests.
What distinguishes FoodCycle as a charity is its commitment not only to alleviating hunger, but also addressing loneliness. To do this, we serve our guests and treat them well, creating a warm and welcoming environment that is always inclusive. Volunteers are encouraged to sit with guests and strike up conversations while they dine. And since our guests come from all walks of life, you’re sure to meet a wide range of people with varying perspectives and experiences in life.
3. You become involved in your community
The truth is we all tend to get caught up in our own lives. But sometimes, it really is good for the soul to be helpful to the community. Volunteering at your local charity keeps you in touch with reality and what’s going on where you live.
Britain is the loneliest country in the EU, so getting involved in your community can help to build bridges and reduce social isolation.
FoodCycle, in particular, has 34 projects across the UK, that all make an impact in their communities. Guests and volunteers say that they feel better connected to their community because of FoodCycle – which can only be a good thing!
4. You make a difference
There’s an endless number of causes you can get behind as a volunteer. FoodCycle, for one, is not only about combatting food poverty, it’s also about reducing food waste in the UK and importantly, bringing people together to reduce loneliness.
In 2017, we managed to set a new record for meals served at over 63,000 – that’s on top of several other milestones such as saving almost 100 tonnes of food waste!
This means that volunteering – and if you volunteer at FoodCycle – makes a real, tangible, and significant impact. None of your time and effort are wasted, and you help make other people’s lives better.
5. And finally, you get to have fun!
It’s not all work when volunteering. It’s also about having fun! The atmosphere is often relaxed at FoodCycle cooks, stories are shared, and friendships are formed. Many of the volunteers often come back, which means you really get to establish a relationship with them. This is very true for guests as well, as on average our guests keep coming back to FoodCycle for 1.5 years!
There are many more advantages to volunteering and why you should definitely participate. But those are best discovered through experience. Sign up to volunteer for FoodCycle over at volunteer.foodcycle.org.uk.