Australians love summer. Schools go on holiday. We slip-slop-slap down to the beach and spend time with our friends and family. But for the thousands of people feeling isolated in our communities, it can be the hardest time of the year.
The best medicine
The good news is that one of the best cures for loneliness is free, easily available and has no side effects. It’s called: volunteering.
More than a third of adult Australians volunteer. Whether or not they are initially driven to do so because they are lonely, they end up happier and healthier those who don’t.
A massive 96% of volunteers says it makes them feel happier. People talk about a ‘helper’s high’ – a powerful physical and emotional feeling they experience when helping others.
In other words, volunteering isn’t just good for the people you are helping, it enhances your own wellbeing too. Especially because volunteering cures loneliness. It bonds you with the people you are helping. People who volunteer stay active, engaged and connected to the community. Human beings are social creatures. We need a sense of belonging – and a sense of purpose.
Volunteering gives us both.
It's a two-way street
For Australians whose loneliness stems from them being too frail or too sick to leave their homes, volunteering can also be the answer – from the other direction.
Companies like Silver Chain run volunteer programs where people sign up to provide social support for those stuck at home. Volunteers help clients to build their confidence so they can stay connected to their own community. People simply drop in for a regular chat, take their clients shopping, or help them reconnect with previous interests.
One of our volunteers, Julie, discovered the isolated lady she was visiting had painted the beautiful pictures in her home. Her art had faded away when she stopped driving and could no longer get supplies. Her hands shook and her balance was going.
A visit to the art shop and a connection with an art program rekindled her old skills. Today, her hands are steady as she paints – and, as a keen member of a community arts group, her loneliness is a thing of the past.
For her, and for hundreds of other volunteers and their clients, volunteering gives everyone something to look forward to.
If you’d like to know more about volunteering opportunities, or if you or someone you care for could benefit from a volunteering service please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Contact Centre on (08) 9242 0242.