New Year volunteering

As we speed towards February, you may be asking yourself why, once again, you made the new year resolutions that you did? It’s easy to slip back into old routines, and you may already have reneged on your promises and be berating yourself for your lack of will power. That gym membership? The promise to run every other day? The cheeky croissant in the morning instead of a homemade juice? Perhaps you’re barking up the wrong tree when it comes to making a difference to yourself?

Making resolutions that will affect your well-being rather than your waistline or your wallet can have life-affirming results for you and have a huge impact on others in the process. Resolutions that are self-directed enjoy a failure rate of 80%, but selfless giving can enhance happiness, improve your health, and even extend your life. Helping others doesn’t just benefit the recipient.

So how can you turn over a new leaf, get fit, meet new people, learn new skills and help others? By choosing to volunteer, and our region has a dizzying number of organisations that offer volunteering positions to fit around even the busiest schedule. We look at a small selection...

Advice and guidance
You could work with the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to offer support and guidance to those who may be struggling with the cost of living or other aspects of life, and you’d receive full training and could work hours that suit your lifestyle. There are also opportunities to get involved with fundraising, admin, research campaigning, media relations, volunteer recruitment and support and even becoming a trustee. The CAB also oversees Witness Service volunteers, supporting witnesses in court by giving information about the court process and giving support before the trial and on the day. You can find out more about current volunteering opportunities and apply here.

How about supporting young people through difficult times? You could train to become a Childline volunteer and be there for young people when they feel they have no one else to turn to. You’d need to commit to a regular shift of up to 4 hours each week at one of 12 Childline bases across the UK, including in Manchester, and you’d receive comprehensive training and ongoing support. Find out about opportunities with Childline in England and Wales.

Hands-on help
With many people struggling to make ends meet, use of food banks has rocketed recently, and your local food bank will no doubt be looking for volunteers. From receiving food in the warehouse, stocking up the shelves and making tea to offering support and a listening ear to its users, there are many ways you can help. You could also fundraise if you don’t have time to commit to regular support. Google your local food bank and give them a call.

Furry friends
You could give up a few hours each weekend to care for animals in your local animal shelter. While there are roles cleaning out litter boxes, socialising cats and walking dogs, you can volunteer to fundraise or help organise events if you can’t commit to a regular weekend. Many of the shelters are independent charities, so you’ll need to contact them directly, but the RSPCA can give you information about volunteering for them.

The Cinnamon Trust offers short term assistance to pet owners who have found themselves unable to care for their pet due to hospitalisation, operations etc. Volunteers can walk dogs or offer foster placements and you can find out more here.

Little people
Becoming a reader volunteer for a child at a local school can get you out and about and, more importantly, change the lives of children. With one in five school children reporting that they do not have access to books at home, a little consistent time devoted to them could improve their confidence and life chances – all for a few hours a week. There are several national charities that offer volunteering opportunities, so Google your area and you’ll find some close to home.

If Education interests you, being a School Governor is a fascinating way of offering your local (or not so local) school the benefit of your skills and knowledge, as well as broadening your knowledge base! You do not have to be a parent or have any previous contact with the school (in fact, being a new set of eyes can be extremely helpful). Find out more.

Keep it local and meet new people
How about volunteering at a local charity shop, where you can support a charity, learn new skills and meet new people? Charities rely on volunteers to keep their shops open, and there are a variety of roles you could undertake for as any hours as you can spare. Sorting donations, operating the till, creating the window displays or stock taking in the back room. There are thousands of charity shops across Cheshire, the North West and North Wales, all looking for friendly and committed people to give as much or little time as they can. Visit the website of the charity with a shop near you and have a look.

Keep up your new exercise routine and raise money There’s nothing like a target and the thought that others are depending on you to make you lace up those running shoes and keep up with your exercise schedule. If getting fit is one of your resolutions, why not combine it with raising money for a local charity by entering a race? You’ll receive amazing support, schedules to stick to and you’ll be improving your fitness and making a difference to the lives of others in your area. It’s a win-win!

It's worth noting that many employers nowadays offer their employees time off to volunteer – ask if your employer has a volunteering CIPD Policy.

If you think you’d simply like to donate some time, and you’re not fussy about the type of volunteering, there are several websites you can visit for opportunities in your area.

National Database

North Wales


Cheshire East