Mapesbury Mutual Aid Coordinator, Linda, gives her thoughts on volunteering:
What were your reasons to start volunteering?
I started volunteering just before lockdown, as it really seemed that there would be a lot of urgent problems and I wanted to help out. Especially things such as food were a big problem and I wanted to help out people in need.
How have you found volunteering has helped you
as a person?
Volunteering has been great. The people you meet are so inspiring! The first weeks of lockdown, there was so much negativity on the news, etc., and to be part of such a large group of people who just want to help each other was a major positive boost. Lockdown was personally also very stressful and the volunteering has kept me focused on positive things instead of worrying about things I couldn’t change.
Many say volunteering is good for mental health, would you agree?
Definitely! I think so many aspects of volunteering are. Positive interaction, the feeling of having an impact, being part of a group, it’s all there and is great for mental health.
A huge part of our role on the community phone at Mapesbury has been working with those who just need a chat. This ranges from those who are lonely and would like to build a relationship with someone on the phone to those really struggling with their mental health and needing guidance in getting additional support. Some residents have ended up in long term friendships with our volunteers who continue to check in on them and are a friendly voice.
The team has also been focused on acquainting themselves and sometimes even partnering with charities to ensure people get the right expertise and nuanced referrals are made to connect people to organisations.
We have also seen a desire to focus on community spirit for those feeling lonely or simply needing some joy in their day.