5 Ways to help in your community and feel great about it

25 Jan 2019
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

If you believe the things that are written on stock-quote websites, the great Albert Einstein once said this: ‘Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.’ True or not, real quote or fake, it’s the perfect intro to our topic: doing good.

To volunteer your time for free, for the good of others, has been shown time and again to be good for your mental and physical health. So, if you feel like you need a boost to either, think about giving a little time and energy to causes in your local area.

Here are five student-friendly ways to start making a difference where you live.

GoodGym: Do good while you exercise

Like to keep fit? Volunteering doesn’t have to eat into your gym time. Combine your exercise routine with doing good deeds by joining GoodGym.

Running in 47 areas and growing all the time, GoodGym is a community of runners who stop off along their routes to help an elderly person with a job, or keep them company. They also lend a hand with bigger community projects.

With more than 80 new GoodGyms in the pipeline, there’s bound to be one near you. The Independent newspaper summed GoodGym up nicely when it said:

“Why burn energy in the gym when you could harness that effort to spruce up public spaces, or visit lonely pensioners?”

Why, indeed. Visit the GoodGym website to get involved.

19 of us ran to @HopeHousingBMTH last night to help move a shed load of stuff....and a couple sheds...4km of running and a lot of fun!
Here's the report:https://t.co/AjkpsebboA pic.twitter.com/AqVmAoJWUb

— GoodGym Bournemouth (@GGBournemouth) January 17, 2019

Green Gyms: Work out and improve your environment

If you like the sound of GoodGym and you care about protecting our natural environment, you’ll love the idea behind Green Gyms, run by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV).

Search for conservation projects where you are, then meet fellow volunteers for a warm-up before working to improve a green space in your community. It’s a great way to look after your mind, body, and your local area - as well as to meet new people.

In fact, it’s so effective, the TCV says that GPs are now starting to prescribe Green Gyms to patients who are in need of wellbeing support.

Visit the TCV website to find a project you can get involved in.

Societies: Make a difference through your SU

There are lots of good reasons to join a society at university. From making friends and learning new skills, to having an outlet for your hobbies, the wellbeing benefits can be huge.

And if you’re interested in making a difference in your community, joining a society is one way to do it. Most SUs have at least one society devoted to doing good.

The University of Nottingham’s Pro Bono Society does voluntary work with schools, underprivileged kids, and prisoners. At Northumbria, Project ICE helps elderly people get the most out of their tech. And every Sunday morning, the Dirty Weekenders from Edinburgh Uni go on a local clean-up mission - they even provide sandwiches and biscuits.

What’s going on at your SU? Get online and find out.

Related: How joining a society helped me settle into university

Student Hubs: Tackle social issues in your local area

Student Hubs is a national charity that works with universities to set up on-campus volunteering hubs - initiatives that students lead to tackle social issues in their community.

Tutoring and mentoring in schools, organising out-of-school fun for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, reducing loneliness among older people in the community - these are just some of the ways that students make a difference with Student Hubs.

If you go to Kingston University, Oxford Brookes, the University of Oxford, or the University of Bristol, you can get involved now. If you don’t, why not work with your university to start a hub where you are?

vInspired: Opportunities designed for the under-25s

Looking for volunteering opportunities aimed specifically at young people? Look no further than vInspired, the UK's leading volunteering charity for 14-25 year olds.

You can search for opportunities on their website by keyword, area of interest, and location, and they’ll show you which charities in your area are looking for motivated young people like you.

vInspired also operates a number of awards schemes, so you can log the volunteering hours you do and get recognition for them. Not a bad way to impress a potential employer.

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Staff writer at The Common Room