#LIFEHACKS
How Volunteering Can Improve Your Wellbeing & Enrich Your Life

When you do good, you feel good.

By Sasha Gonzales      9 October 2021

Volunteering doesn’t just help the beneficiary or a cause. Many studies have found that people who do charity work or perform good deeds for others experience a boost in their emotional and mental health, and may even lower their blood pressure and experience relief from chronic pain, thanks to the “feel-good” nature of their work. In addition, volunteering strengthens your social connections and makes you feel part of a community, thereby increasing your sense of belonging.

When Giving Back Comes Back To You

Knowing that you’re contributing to the welfare of others can do wonders for your self-esteem and self-confidence. Plus, when you see how your actions have positively impacted an individual or a community – such as the grateful smiles of the people you have helped, or the pristine beach after you have contributed to cleaning it up – you can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment, fulfilment and purpose. Life seems more meaningful and you feel inspired to help and give more.

Volunteering also contributes to your personal development. “It teaches you empathy, patience, communication and social awareness skills,” says a spokesperson at Youth Corps Singapore, a national institution that empowers and supports youths who are keen to serve their community. “Many youth volunteers have told us that volunteering has improved their interpersonal and social skills as it’s allowed them to step out of their comfort zone, make new friends and interact with people from all walks of life. Along the way, they’ve also picked up language, facilitation, project management and planning skills, depending on the roles they’ve taken on.”

Get Started As A Volunteer

Want to be a volunteer? You don’t need specific training or experience, just a genuine desire to serve others. Check out @youthcorpssg on Telegram or www.volunteer.gov.sg/youthcorpssg for upcoming opportunities.

“While different roles require different levels of training and experience, Youth Corps Singapore typically provides orientation and training for volunteers to make sure that they’re well-equipped,” says the spokesperson. “Volunteers should also take note of the requirements for each volunteer opportunity when they sign up, to see if they’re suitable for the role. Character references are not needed.”

Youth Corps welcomes volunteers aged between 15 and 35. Roles include befrienders, coordinators, photographers and more, and are spread out across different social causes (seniors, children, youth, special needs and the environment).

Tips To Find The Perfect Volunteer Role

Read the role description to find out what it’s about. Look closely at the level of commitment as well as the skills and requirements required before signing up.

“For those who prefer working with people, opportunities may involve befriending seniors, children or persons with special needs,” the spokesperson continues. “If you prefer a behind-the-scenes role, you may wish to participate in a beach clean-up or help curate learning and social awareness programmes.”

Time-strapped? Sign up for community service events or bite-sized volunteering opportunities. These are short-term (half-day or one-day) yet meaningful, so you can still make a difference despite having a busy schedule.

If you have some experience in leadership positions or running community service initiatives, you may enjoy a leadership or facilitator role. Those with specific skills such as photography can sign up as an event photographer or consider joining Youth Corps’ cause-based or skills-based clusters to contribute in your preferred area of interest.


Dos And Don’ts Of Becoming A Volunteer

Do

  • Be open to learning and trying new things
  • Have empathy and patience and treat everyone with respect
  • Be sincere and take the time to get to know and connect with people
  • Be present and punctual, honour your commitment and inform the volunteer in-charge as early as possible if you can’t volunteer at the agreed date and time
  • Know your limits. Ask for help if you’re unsure how to handle a situation
  • Motivate others. Volunteering is more fun if you motivate your friends and family to join you
  • Remember that volunteering is a two-way street. You will be able to learn and benefit from the experience as much as the beneficiaries you are serving

Don’t

  • Overcommit. Make sure you’re available before signing up to volunteer, and communicate in advance
  • Make assumptions or impose your religious beliefs or political views on fellow volunteers and beneficiaries
  • Fear making mistakes. Every mistake is a learning opportunity to do better the next time

Share your volunteering experiences with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!

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