Talking to another person who has had similar life experiences can be extremely beneficial to your wellbeing - nothing relieves stress or provides support better than a meaningful connection to another person.
Volunteers who are beneficiaries provide a vital enhancement to the work of the Trust as they can bring an empathetic insight and understanding of your situation.
Read about the volunteering that can be accessed through the Trust, opportunities to become one of our volunteers and the benefits that this type of service brings to all involved.
Volunteers provide invaluable support
Beneficiary volunteers provide invaluable support to other beneficiaries through the Trust, allowing us to offer additional services to benefit all involved:
- a more diverse range of services due to the skills and experiences of volunteers
- localised input and support
- a perspective that reflects the views of the thalidomide community
- an energy and enthusiasm that comes from wanting to help others
The affects of thalidomide can make day to day life difficult. They can be isolating, as well as disabling, and sometimes you just need someone to talk things through with – from the emotional, to the practical.
If that person is a beneficiary of the Trust you will have something in common from the word ‘go’. You won’t need to explain what thalidomide is and how it has changed your life, and you won’t have to tell them all the about the Trust and its role. They already know.
A Beneficiary Volunteer will have gone through similar processes and experiences. Some of our volunteers have been working with the Trust for many years and have picked up a great deal of knowledge about every day practicalities like benefits and care entitlement, as well as equipment and adaptations.
They also know who's who at the Trust and where to go for more help and support.
Why become a volunteer?
Everyone affected by thalidomide has their own, unique perspective on living with its legacy. Working as volunteers gives beneficiaries the opportunity to share their experience and coping strategies and many have told us that that gives them a real buzz!
The benefits of volunteering are significant both to you and to the community that you help. The right opportunity can help you reduce stress, find friends, connect with the community and even learn new skills. Giving to others can also help maintain mental and physical health.
The 4 key benefits to volunteering are:
- Volunteering connects you to others.
It can help you make new friends, strengthen existing relationships and increase both your social and communication skills.
- Volunteering is good for your mind and body.
Being in regular contact with others helps counteract the effects of stress and anxiety, and also combats depression. Research has shown that volunteering makes you happier because you are giving to others.
Volunteering provides a sense of purpose and increases your self-confidence, making it more likely for you to have a positive view of life and the future.
All this contributes to helping you maintain your physical health.
- Volunteering can advance your career.
There may be opportunities to learn new skills as well as practice those you already have, giving you confidence to stretch your wings if you wish to.
- Volunteering brings fulfillment to your life.
Using your experiences and skills to help others with aspects of their lives that you find meaningful and interesting will provide you with a sense of fulfilment.
Benefits to volunteering in later life
Many individuals are realising the benefits of thinking of others, which has the mutual advantage of helping those who need help and of providing health benefits to the giver.
Potential explanations for these benefits to wellbeing of volunteers can be attributable to a combination of the following:
- Volunteering raises confidence and self-esteem, providing volunteers with a sound psychological basis and approach to life.
- Volunteering is associated with positive human development through giving back to the community.
- Helping in the community gives people an external focus, and takes the attention away from their own personal concerns.
- Volunteering and community involvement can counter potential loneliness and social isolation, as well as help to provide mutual, functional support.
- Volunteering provides volunteers with a positive self-identity and sense of purpose.
Find out more about volunteering with the Trust
Giving something back - Volunteers' experiences
Whatever we do in life we all have talents and experiences that we can share with other people – and the Thalidomide Trust’s inspiring beneficiaries are no exception.
Read the stories and comments of beneficiaries who have used their skills and knowledge to make a difference to the thalidomide community and the Trust’s work.