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Volunteering is good for the soul

Karen wanted to make a difference to her local community, but volunteering with the Trust led to so much more. She tells us about the boost to her wellbeing and her route to new employment.

Two volunteers lift a battered and dirty towpath sign on saying 'Transpennine Trail'
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"It gave me life-skills and confidence that I probably couldn’t have gained elsewhere."

I fell into volunteering on the canal by accident really. I was already volunteering with a local community group doing litter picking and someone posted about the Sefton Towpath Taskforce on the group's Facebook page. It was on a stretch of Leeds & Liverpool Canal near me, so I went along.

I was shocked at the amount of rubbish we pulled out of canal, but I enjoyed the fresh air, the friendliness of the team and the feeling of having done something good afterwards.

Over time I began to volunteer regularly on Fridays, when my health permitted. I was made to feel welcome and if I wasn't too well I could adjust what I did on the day. That was the beauty of it, you could go at your own pace and do what you felt physically able to do. As the months passed I could see the difference we were making. Less bags of rubbish were collected, and canal was looking much better.

Volunteering boosts confidence

One of the biggest things for me was the confidence it brought me. Passers-by often stopped to chat, to ask what we were doing, and I must confess I always stopped to talk to the dogs we saw, and then had to say hello to their human.

My volunteering work attracted the attention of someone from another community group, who in turn put my name forward to a local firm who were recruiting in area. The boss there had also seen my volunteering exploits online, and in the space of seven weeks I went from nothing to a full-time job.

Fresh air and life-skills

Without volunteering, I know I would never have managed to get a job. It gave me life-skills and confidence that I probably couldn't have gained elsewhere. I have a number of health issues, and the fresh air and exercise helped me control my illness better.

I would certainly recommend volunteering as not only do you make new friends and gain confidence, you also make a difference to the local community and that surely is good for the soul.

Group of volunteers walk passed a boat along the towpath in life jackets carrying painting equipment

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Last Edited: 29 August 2018

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