Volunteering increases one’s wellbeing – Lessons from the Community Impact Forum in Canterbury

I attended the Community Impact Forum in Canterbury on 17 June 2019 which was held to kick off Small Charities Week 2019 and Canterbury Christ University’s annual Staff Well-being Week. Volunteers, Volunteer Managers, Fundraising Managers, Chief Executives and other staff from the third and community sector as well as students and staff at Canterbury Christ Church University attended the event for an afternoon of informal networking, discussion and development. 

Tristi Brownett, Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion and Public Health, gave a very interesting talk in which she presented her research on Community Festivals – the health and wellbeing benefits for the community and volunteers.  

I found Trista’s talk on the benefits of free festivals (such as Broadstairs Folk Week) versus paid ‘gated’ festivals fascinating as Trista explained how with free festivals the volunteers come from the local community, as do a lot of the festival goers, and the whole experience benefits the local and wider community in terms of wellbeing.  With paid ‘gated’ festivals both volunteers and festival goers often come from further afield and the local community can feel excluded. 

It was also interesting to learn that the research suggests, as you would expect, that volunteering increases one’s wellbeing, but what the research went on to reveal was that often only those people who already have positive wellbeing are willing to put themselves forward to volunteer because they have the self-esteem to believe that they can do the job.   The challenge is therefore to reach out to those people who think they cannot do the job as they will come to realise that with the right support and development opportunities they can do the job and not only will this benefit the individual but also the community as volunteers are always in demand by our various local organisations.

Trista’s talk was followed by an open discussion – Creating a culture of volunteering – and the afternoon ended with Tea, Cake and Networking! 

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