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Get happy, healthy & boost your CV by becoming a Communiteer in 2021

A SOUTHAMPTON charity is urging anyone who made New Year’s Resolutions to get happier, healthier and give their career a boost this month (January 2021) to get in touch.

Communicare says taking time out to help others as part of its Communiteer programme can help individuals live longer, stay fit and enable them to cope better with illness.

Annie Clewlow, Communicare Manager explained: “It’s well-known that those who give their time freely to help others do a power of good for the charities they assist, but increasingly people are realising helping out can also bring many benefits to themselves too.

“Our band of Communiteers are a vital part of our organisation. They are our life blood and we would not be able to manage without them. We are always seeking more helpers and are urging people to get in touch.”

The Community Life Survey published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2019/20 found wanting to ‘improve things and help people’ remains the most important reason to volunteer.

The cause being really important to someone is a top reason for people to get involved (32%) but also a barrier for people to get into volunteering or do it more frequently. 53% of people said that work commitments prevent them from volunteering and more than one third (37%) said they do other things in their spare time.

Annie continued: “Even when people have a few minutes to spare and are not available on a regular basis, there are ways in which they can make a difference to someone who needs support.

“Aside from the obvious feel-good factor from giving your time to a worthy cause, becoming a Communiteer has a number of key benefits for your career too. Not only is it a great way to gain practical experience, it can also help you stand out from the crowd and learn practical skills, which will make you more desirable for prospective employers.

“Becoming a Communiteer for as little as an hour a week you’ll feel happier, healthier and boost your career, while making a meaningful difference to society too.”

Individuals are able to play an active role in their society and by mixing with people from different cultural and social backgrounds, it helps break down social barriers. Communicare’s work has a huge impact on individuals and communities and every contribution of time, regardless of amount, counts.

“Becoming a Communiteer helps others and, also, helps us feel physically healthier, improves our sense of well-being, lowers stress levels and enriches our sense of purpose in life. The NHS agrees. On its website*, updated in November 2019, it says small acts of kindness bring many health benefits to the individual giver, including improved quality of life, improved ability to cope with ill-health and improved self-esteem.

“Studies have found that when you stop thinking about your own problems and focus on someone other than yourself, your stress levels start to decrease, your immune system is strengthened, and your overall sense of life satisfaction increases. This is because helping someone else interrupts tension-producing patterns and replaces it with a sense of purpose, positive emotions and high confidence levels.

“Also, whether you’re a student, a person with a long career or someone in between, there are plenty of good reasons why becoming a Communiteer can be beneficial to you. It boosts your CV, gives you opportunities to meet people and expand your network, helps you clarify your career goals, while gaining new skills or refining ones you already have, and helps increase your confidence. So, volunteering is something to embrace as part of a busy working day.”

Communicare, which is a friendly, neighbourhood charity, provides services that enrich the lives of lonely and isolated people in and around Southampton. These services are staffed by its committed, kind-hearted Communiteers, who volunteer and give their time freely.

Annie adds: “They act as good neighbours, generously making regular befriending telephone calls, safely driving people to urgent medical appointments and doing shopping for those unable to leave home at the moment, as well as providing other practical and emotional support.”

The charity’s Good Neighbours’ Network is currently supporting more than 560 individuals/families through tasks including one-to-one telephone befriending and transport for essential appointments and assistance with shopping.

Normally Communicare’s services are linked to hosting face-to-face social events, such as regular lunches and tea parties for service users, but the charity, understandably, is unable to organise these currently due to ongoing Government restrictions on gatherings.

Currently more of Communicare’s work is done via the telephone, post and online.

The services Communicare provides are free to users, although beneficiaries are invited to make a donation if they are able to, and Communiteers are offered expenses.

Annie explains: “While we don’t require volunteers for face-to-face social events at the moment, we still have lots of people who need a check-in call. It is a lifeline and really brightens their days.”

To find out more about Communicare, please visit www.communicareinsouthampton.org.uk.

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