Katy P
By Katy Perceval

Who’d be a volunteer? Well, quite a few of us, as it happens: quite a few million of us, that is.

Not all at Thrive obviously (our gardens would be flattened), but across all manner of charities, community groups and networks too. And that was before another 750,000 volunteers signed up to be Covid-19 NHS Responders across the UK this spring.

I’ve been a Garden Support Volunteer at Battersea since July 2017 and, seriously, I absolutely love it.

Battersea heb garden
The Herb Garden at Thrive London

In fact, during lockdown it’s one of the things I’ve missed most. The people, the garden, the shared purpose, that sense of belonging… you know, everything that makes Thrive a force for good in its work to enable our client gardeners. Everything that makes it so caring and strong.

Natural fit

So what prompts people to offer their time, energy and skills for free? We’re all different but for most volunteers, ‘giving something back’ is right there at the top of the list.

It’s not rocket science: doing good makes you feel good.

Katy

For me, though, that was only ever half the picture.

I also wanted to open my mind by working alongside those whose lives (and life chances) had perhaps been very different to my own. I wanted to deepen my skills and develop new ones. I like people and I love to learn.

Having fun

Just as importantly, I wanted to have fun – because, seriously, who doesn’t? So I’m lucky that in Thrive I’ve found a team, charity and garden that’s such a natural fit for me.

That’s why I’m such an advocate of the benefits that volunteering brings.

Connect with a cause where you truly care, bring an open mind/heart and respect for others and it’s not just you and the charity who’ll get a boost – your business (if you’re corporate volunteering), community and society as a whole will benefit too. Indeed, the estimated annual benefit of volunteering to the UK economy is (drumroll, please) an amazing £22.6bn. If there’s a chance to celebrate that, count me in!

It’s not rocket science: doing good makes you feel good. In fact, ‘Give’ is one of the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ recognised as the foundation of strong mental and physical health, regardless of culture, location, ability or age.

The others? Connect, Be Active, Take Notice and Learn. How lucky am I to enjoy all five every day I spend at Battersea with Thrive?

* As well as being a Thrive volunteer, Katy is an Ambassador for us. She is pictured on her last day of volunteering at Thrive London before lockdown.

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