New Year, New You!

Flock of geese - Suzanna Bird

Whether it's doing more for others, or just as importantly, for yourself, there's a multitude of promises you could make in 2018...and you could cover them all off in one go through volunteering.

The benefits of volunteering are well documented - a recent study carried out by the University of Essex on behalf of The Wildlife Trusts examined the effects of volunteering in nature on people's mental health. Findings published last year linked such volunteering to an improvement in mental wellbeing in more than two-thirds (69%) of all participants after just 6 weeks.

From 16 years +, wherever you live, whatever your talent or interest, however much time you can give, you can volunteer with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. In Doncaster, Potteric Carr nature reserve is opening its doors on 14 January, 10am-3pm for a free, volunteering drop-in day to showcase opportunities at the Trust, in the hope of engaging more people with nature and the work of the charity.

Rachael Tulloch, 30, is a barn owl volunteer in South Yorkshire. Before volunteering with the Trust she worked as an admin assistant, a job she didn’t enjoy, and so volunteering was a breath of fresh air. Her barn owl volunteering involves checking barn owl boxes to survey their success across South Yorkshire to monitor the difference that the projects have on nature.

Rachael said: "When I’m volunteering I can see the reed beds blowing in the wind and feel the sun on my face. It feels like such a healthy place to be. My volunteer days help keep me happy through the rest of the week. I would recommend volunteering to everyone – there are such a variety of roles on offer and you feel like you are really making a difference to wildlife in the area.”

Jennifer Few, Volunteering Development Officer for South and West Yorkshire said: “Don't worry if you're unsure of how much time you have, or can only help out occasionally. There's so many opportunities to volunteer – both indoors and outdoors! You may choose to indulge an old interest, do something completely different or unlock a hidden talent!

“We are also looking to fill specific roles, including ‘Inspiring People Volunteers’ to help visitors discover the magic of nature, show children how to build dens and make fires and inspire schools about their local wildlife. In addition, we need survey volunteers (experts and complete novices) to help us unwrap the mysteries of our local wildlife. If you have an eye for detail and like walking this could be perfect! Whatever you choose to do, you'll have the chance to make great friends and create wonderful memories.”