How volunteering can improve your health and wellbeing

By Katie Aartse-Tuyn,
Sustrans volunteers socialising

In a survey conducted with Sustrans volunteers in 2018, 47% said they feel their wellbeing has improved as a result of volunteering with Sustrans

Our volunteers are at the heart of everything we do here at Sustrans, and we’re incredibly lucky to have so many people across the UK helping to increase the impact of our work.

We don't know what we would do without them. They provide a huge contribution to the charity - from sprucing up the National Cycle Network, to empowering people to walk and cycle, improving wildlife along our greenways to inspiring young people in schools to get active. 

And whilst volunteers bring so much to charities – from sharing their expertise and skills, providing invaluable support, and helping to spread the word about our work – national research has shown that volunteering can also have a positive impact on those who generously choose to give their time.

Doing good does you good too

There are lots of benefits to volunteering with Sustrans: Socialising with other volunteers, improving the environment for walking and cycling, getting exercise and helping with my wellbeing

- Sustrans volunteer
Volunteering can really benefit our health and wellbeing, with reports from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) showing that giving your time to help others is linked to:
  • increased self-esteem
  • reduced depression symptoms
  • better self-reported wellbeing
  • increased life satisfaction.

According to the Mental Health Association, getting involved with a charity, or cause, that you are passionate about can benefit your wellbeing.

Applying skills and experiences to support their mission is a way that people of all ages can increase feelings of self-esteem, respect, motivation and wellbeing.

Sustrans volunteers report improved wellbeing

Allowing me to help others helps me feel physically, mentally and spiritually balanced and in touch with nature and myself

- Sustrans volunteer
Volunteering brings a myriad of health and physical benefits. And here at Sustrans we provide lots of volunteer opportunities that involve being outdoors in the fresh air, getting physically active, and being part of a wonderfully positive social network.

In a recent survey conducted with Sustrans volunteers in 2018, we found that as a result of volunteering with Sustrans:

Benefits of volunteering

I take some pride in what I achieve through my Volunteering. I've made new friends, gained knowledge and skills and improved my fitness

- Sustrans volunteer

Our findings definitely support the notion that volunteering improves health and wellbeing, and we’re really proud that our volunteers feel that they benefit from working with us.

Some of the most reported benefits that Sustrans volunteers reported include:

  • reduced loneliness and isolation
  • being involved in a meaningful activity
  • making new friends
  • increased physical and mental activity.

And there are lots of other benefits to volunteering with Sustrans too. From learning new skills and improving existing ones, helping to improve your local environment, being outdoors in the fresh air, to encouraging others to walk and cycle.

There really is something for everyone, and we’d love you to join us.

Meet our Volunteer Programme Manager, Katie,  as she shares over a decade of volunteering wisdom at an event in London on 20 November 2018.

Fancy volunteering with Sustrans? Join our 3,200 volunteers making a huge difference to their community

Check out the Mental Health Foundation’s free pocket guide for more information

More blog posts by Katie Aartse-Tuyn