Wessex Community Action is the council for voluntary services in Wiltshire and provides practical support for community organisations on funding, governance, planning, policy development, recruiting and leadership. This monthly volunteering column looks at all aspects of volunteering and how people can give up their time for the benefit of their communities.


GIVING up time as a volunteer can make a huge difference to the organisation you volunteer for, not to mention the people it helps, but it’s also hugely beneficial to you too.

Volunteering  can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. It’s a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. It strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighbourhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities.

People build closer relationships, better connections, and more powerful attachments to those they work together with. You have shared experiences, things to smile about and the satisfaction of working together to accomplish something.

When Ian Spires of Chippenham retired from BMW in Swindon on medical grounds he felt the loss of daily contact with his workmates so he began volunteering at the educational and crafting charity Wiltshire Scrapstore a day a week. Then, 15 months ago, he was experiencing depression and anxiety so he was introduced via his GP to the Chippenham Community Eco Hub in Borough Parade.

“I've never looked back ever since,” says the 61-year-old. “On Mondays I run the crafting group, and then on Tuesday I do half a day and all day Wednesday helping people who come in by signposting them to services and answering queries.

“I love it because it has made me realised there are people who are far worse off than I have been. Just getting up and getting out gives me a lift and it gets me motivated and mixing with other people, chatting to other people and being part of a team is a big help. You never know who will come through the door from one minute to the next.”

If you are interested in trying volunteering, speak to Wessex Community Action. It can help assess your volunteering areas of interest, your requirements and help find a suitable match to an opportunity. It also offers training and support around what to expect from volunteering.

Volunteer and Community Development Worker Sarah Pickering says: “Volunteering can have such an incredible impact on peoples’ lives. The enriching experience can help them feel connected and fulfilled. It creates a sense of participation and pride that is helping to support good causes in the Wiltshire community.”

To find out more and to register interest in volunteering, contact Sarah at volunteerdev@wessexcommunityaction.org.uk.

An ideal place to look for volunteering  opportunities is Wiltshire Together, a digital community hosted by Wessex Community Action but where community organisations and charities manage all their own content and activities so it’s always up to date, and you are connected straight back to that organisation. . It’s free to use and allows you to browse and pledge interest for the wide range of fantastic volunteer opportunities available on the site. You can also set up a member profile that allows you to log your volunteer hours, which can help with your CV and employability prospects.

The site now has a new Volunteering in Wiltshire page and can be found at wiltshiretogether.org.uk