Organisations like the Salvos would not be able to do all their good work without the partnerships they have built with Aussies from all across the country.
Some of those partnerships are with groups and sporting bodies, but the ones with individuals are just as important.
Through volunteering, anyone is able to partner in making Australia a better place for everyone, regardless of age or background. And what many people don’t realise is that volunteering actually has significant health benefits, so while we are giving to others we are also getting something in return.
1. Thoughts that count
Research by John Hopkins University from 2012 found that people who volunteered showed a marked improvement in cognitive function, and healthy brain activities. It was especially noticeable in older individuals and may have long-term benefits. It also saw a positive impact on their quality of life outside volunteering.
2. Lower your blood pressure
A 2013 study by Harvard University found that adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. It’s been theorised that this may be connected with the fact that volunteers are likely to be more physically active, but may also be linked to the mental health benefits of volunteering.
3. Healthy mind, healthy body
The government’s Healthdirect website has fact sheets about the benefits of volunteering, including the fact that people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression. It also helps reduce stress levels, and this can have physical benefits.
4. Living well...and longer
In 2012, industry journal Health Psychology conducted research which found that participants who volunteered with some regularity actually lived longer, but it was influenced by intentions. People who volunteered out of a genuine desire to help others were better off than those who did it solely for what they got out of it.
In the Bible, Jesus continually encourages us to help one another and put the needs of others before our own. As with many other age-old truths, it seems that modern research bears out the fact that he knew what he was talking about some 2,000 years ago, and that much of what we are instructed to do doesn’t just help others but also improves our own lives.
Australia’s countless volunteers don’t do what they do for what they get in return, but it seems that their selflessness does come with its rewards. Hopefully that means that as we work together to build healthier communities we are also creating healthier individuals.
If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering, visit salvos.org.au/get-involved/volunteer-opportunities.