I’m literally SUCH an advocate for physical exercise & the outdoors – the main reason being how good I feel mentally during & afterwards. How funny is it that the thought of exercising can actually be stressful and we can’t be bothered to do it a lot of the time, but then literally the first few movements you make in a workout or an outdoors walk and those feelings normally vanish. But why not combine physical exercise & the outdoors with volunteering?! It’s such a feel good combination, you’re doing not only yourself a favour but the planet and local communities/organisations.
So what volunteering options do you have? (UK Based)
First of all – decide on your personal interests! I’m really into the outdoors & conservation work, so I actually volunteer with the national trust for Scotland conservation volunteers. There are groups all over the UK for national trust volunteering.
Conservation volunteering is literally sooo varied! You could be weeding, removing invasive species, doing some gardening, raking up leaves & even repairing or making paths on popular walks.
I know that in Scotland Friends of Nevis and the John Muir trust have regular conservation work parties up Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the UK!) which could be really interesting if you’re into climbing and learning about geology.
Physical activity equals healthy & happy mind!
The reason why I absolutely LOVE this kind of volunteering is because you don’t even realise you’re exercising but you are definitely a good tired at the end of the day. It’s also an amazing social thing and you can actually make long term friends from these kinds of groups, you have a shared interest and so it’s an amazing thing to do! You’re also doing really valuable work, which otherwise wouldn’t get done at all and so it’s extremely rewarding. You might not be getting physical money from it but I think the physical, environmental & mental benefits from volunteering are totally worth it.
Conservation Volunteer Groups
There’s also a group throughout the UK called The Conservation Volunteers, which have many options for either weekend or during the week volunteering. This could be good for people who are retired, maybe mums or dads who want to do something while the kids are at school or people who want to get into a career to do with conservation!
Now, if you’re not able to do really intense physical exercise there are always plenty of other options! You can volunteer with charities at various events to raise money for them, work in a charity shop or even just volunteer on your own terms by carrying out wildlife surveys in your own back garden (such as the butterfly survey-this can take as little as 15 minutes).
Volunteering gives you many amazing new skills which are soo desirable on your CV as well. Some of these are working in a team, using your initiative, being resourceful and following instructions. If you’ve been out of work for a while, or you’re really young and haven’t had a job yet then volunteering is definitely a route you can think about! It gives you skills you will need in a paid job role and companies will definitely see this as a positive thing when you do get to the stage where you want to look for a paid job.
Getting back into the workforce
As for getting back into the workforce volunteering is a really great thing to do for yourself. It can get you back into a routine, help you to make connections and it shows you’re self motivated and you get yourself out there even when you’re not being paid for it. This could lead to meeting someone who might know where you can find a paid job!
How does this all relate to sustainability?
In my personal opinion, connecting with the outdoors is key for the education of conservation & sustainability issues. Personally, I find the more time I spend in the outdoors, the more aware I am of these issues and the more I care about trying to help fix them. You learn so much through outdoor volunteering that you never would had you not taking the precious time to do something so helpful.
If you’re interested in living a sustainable lifestyle check out my post on things you should know before embarking on a sustainable lifestyle journey. You can also check out my post on how to reduce your carbon footprint!
Thanks and let me know if you have any questions about volunteering!