Guest blog by Nafisa Miraf, Touchstone Volunteers Project on the Bayford Foundation site. 
A new survey to mark national Volunteers’ Week reveals that four in five people say volunteering boosts health while six out of 10 individuals report that giving up time to help a good cause helps to reduce stress.
The new report from Citizens Advice, which also shows that volunteering helps employability skills and self-esteem, is very much in line with what we find at Touchstone where 90 volunteers help to deliver our mental health services across diverse communities in Leeds and wider West Yorkshire.
There are hundreds of vibrant charities across the city who rely on volunteers to help them run services.  So whether you are interested in environmental issues, improving your local community, helping children or older people there will be a charity to suit you.  Here are some of my top reasons for volunteering:

  • If you have been out of work for some while, or have never had a job, volunteering can help give you a sense of purpose and achievement.
  • Charities and voluntary organisations invest heavily in their volunteers so you’ll feel well supported with good instruction about what’s expected of you and provide opportunities for you to gain new skills.
  • Being a volunteer gives you a structure and routine and you’ll have an essential role in a team making a real difference
  • As well as gaining new skills and experience, volunteers socialise together so you will make friends and feel part of a community
  • Helping out as a volunteer can increase your self-esteem and belief in your ability – acting as a springboard to give you the confidence to apply for jobs, or make changes to improve your life
  • Any skills and knowledge you have will be invaluable as organisations and charities need volunteers with all kinds of abilities and with different life experiences.

For ideas and opportunities about where you could volunteer have a look at Doing Good Leeds which matches people with voluntary groups and charities.
Touchstone, which specialises in working with people from different cultural backgrounds across West Yorkshire, is one of the Sunday Times top 100 Best Not-for-Profit Organisations to Work For and a Stonewall Top 100 employer.
Touchstone Volunteers Project has also achieved Investing in Volunteers accreditation.  You can follow the charity on Twitter @Touchstone_Spt