Putting volunteers on the map

Did you know that this Monday, 21st January, has been designated “Blue Monday” – the most depressing day of the year? The darker, colder days and a lack of money are said to combine to make us feel a bit down during these first couple of months.

That’s why the Big Lottery Fund has decided to target this time of year to show how volunteering can improve people’s health and wellbeing. This week saw the launch of their new interactive map, showing volunteer opportunities in the area.

View Blue Monday – volunteering campaign in a larger map

We’re really pleased to be part of a wider push for volunteering, as we’ve seen for ourselves the difference it can make to people’s lives.

Gateway’s own volunteer befriender programme has two aims: to help people who are feeling isolated within Birmingham communities and to help improve job prospects for the volunteers themselves.

Befriending – whether that involves just having a cuppa, helping to walk the dog, or sharing skills such as IT – is particularly important at this time of year, for both volunteers and clients. January and February can be miserable for most people, but for someone who’s feeling really lonely and isolated, a friendly face and someone to talk to can make all the difference.

Work like this has many benefits for everyone involved. Volunteers get accredited City and Guilds training and an employer reference, as well as increased confidence and motivation. All parties have the opportunity to make new friends and learn skills, or take part in activities, that they may not have been able to access previously. Links are forged within communities and friendships flourish long after our intervention ends.