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How volunteering is good for mental health

The following passage, written at the beginning of the pandemic, is from my blog at: https://markbickerton.com/


"I hold my hands up, my previous blog was pitiful - it was one of my bad days where I needed to vent my spleen in doggerel. But the day wasn't orange (which many of you will know is the colour of my dog), just a bit yellow, hence I knew it wouldn't last. So today I'm feeling much much better. Today I'm feeling proud. I'm proud because it's official, I'm a NHS volunteer who's cleaning miles and miles of hospital corridors. I'm a man doing his tiny bit to help those at the NHS frontline who risk their lives to save ours. Those who work around the clock yet still find time to express genuine gratitude for my small contribution to the war effort.


"I like to think I've a life of achievements behind me. Tomorrow - when I don my scrubs again - will feel like one of the greatest achievements in front of me."


***


This morning, I reread that post and realised its message was clear; that volunteering made me feel good.


I make no apology for applying some hyperbole to my further description.


It's not unnatural for a volunteer to feel low-rank, non-payroll, the lowest in the pecking order.


But the reality is very different, because when cleaning those corridors I was obviously passed frequently by doctors, nurses, consultants, whatever, and the amount of times these busy professionals working at a time of huge and universal crisis managed to find just a second to say "Thank you for volunteering," filled me with great joy, and even excitement.


Like scoring a goal perhaps, that first kiss, or falling in love. Like I say, hyperbole. Nevertheless, the joy and excitement of being part of something, a cause, a thing of great importance, was a feeling I will never forget and don't want to let go of.


I wonder if my fellow buddies feel the same?


And that's why I'm looking forward to the "do" on August 10th. Let us meet and greet at last. Let us eat a few butties and share our stories between mouthfuls, let us drink and get drunk together. Let us enjoy this new freedom that we've all in our small way enabled. It might make us feel good.


Blog by Mark Bicketon



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