My View, Mel Hewitt: Being a volunteer can improve your life

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We may still be a few weeks off the cathartic and energising joy of ‘putting the clocks forward’, but did anyone else notice it was a little bit lighter travelling to work on Monday?

I know the clearer weather helped – let’s face it, there are days at this time of year that are so grey they never really seem to take off. But, there is a sense that things are starting to wake up from a, much warmer than usual, winter sleep.

In a couple of weeks the first snowdrops should start to bob their heads up and without sounding too children’s storybook about it all, the dawn chorus and the budding of trees and shrubs will really start in earnest.

We often hear people who have had to face serious or even terminal illness say how differently they view the world after they’ve heard the news. The sky is bluer, the sunshine feels warmer, the blossom on the trees is more beautiful and the leaves sparkle like emeralds.

Perhaps I have been a little too poetic in the descriptions but one friend did declare to me that when you can suddenly see that life is finite the simplest of things become more precious. It’s like living in High Definition all the time – having a ‘supersense’ for the everyday that is actually extraordinary.

Wouldn’t it be great if this awareness and appreciation of our health when it is good, our family and friends and the opportunities there are – however small they might seem – to seize the day every day didn’t have to be triggered by adversity.

Some people have already discovered the way to squeeze the lemon of life until the pips squeak and some may not wish to. As they say, it’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you handle it that counts – and we all do it differently. I think one of the most life-enhancing things to do is to volunteer. Now I appreciate that we all lead busy lives and the call of work, running a taxi service for our kids and the siren call of piles of ironing may have to take priority, but the rewards of giving time to something or someone else are incalculable. Whether you can drive someone to an event or appointment, pass on a skill, counsel or just be there to listen it all makes a difference. Many volunteering roles also give you the choice of when and how much time you give.

From being a trustee to making tea it all matters. It may be that you have a talent for singing, acting or playing music. There are many groups in Doncaster – including choirs and theatre groups – you might want to think about joining. I can’t think of a better way to expand your horizons, contribute to our local community, meet new people and perhaps learn new skills than to volunteer or take part.

If you decide to do something new, good for you!