Volunteering to prevent loneliness
This year, Volunteering Australia is celebrating 30 years since the introduction of National Volunteer Week – Australia’s annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of volunteers with the theme for 2019 “Making a world of difference”.
Across Australia more than three million Australians participate in volunteer work and studies by the United Nations show volunteering plays a vital role in developing social connections and alleviating loneliness .
One of these passionate volunteers is Jackie Hallam, who regularly donates her time to the Tomaree Hospital Auxiliary, which supports and raises funds for the Tomaree Hospital in Nelson Bay.
“I started volunteering for the auxiliary three years ago as I wanted to help the community in any way possible,” Ms Hallam said.
“Before retiring from full time work, I was employed in community service jobs for 30 years, so I knew there was a lot the community needed — I just want to make other people’s lives a bit easier and happier.”
Ms Hallam will be moving into Port Stephens’ new land-lease community Latitude One by Ingenia Lifestyle in June 2019 and is looking forward to settling into her new community and sharing her volunteering spirit with her new neighbours.
“Latitude One is just 10 minutes away from Tomaree Hospital, so I will be able to continue volunteering at the auxiliary,” Ms Hallam said
“Once I am all settled in, I’m eager to get involved with some other local causes and encourage my new neighbours to volunteer with me.”
Ingenia Lifestyle encourages its residents to live active fulfilling lives through different social clubs, community groups and its Be Active program — which offers a range of free activities designed to bring residents together to create a stronger, more connected community.
With the risk of social isolation increasing as people age and experience significant life changes, such as retiring , Ms Hallam believes volunteering can help make the difference for the volunteer just as much as the cause they are supporting.
“I think it’s vital for those who are retired to get involved with a hobby or cause,” Ms Hallam said.
“Often people are busy all of their life and then all of the sudden they feel like the world doesn’t need them anymore once they retire.
“If more people looked outside their doors instead of staying locked up inside and feeling lonely, they would find that volunteering can make a world of difference.
“All they need to do is reach out and give somebody else a helping hand – trust me you will get back more than you give.”
National Volunteer Week 2019 was held from Monday 20 May until Sunday 26 May 2019.