How Volunteering Can Benefit Your Mental Health

By Chris Wright for World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day Balloon Circus On the Hill

Balloon Circus

After moving back to the UK in 2020 during the pandemic, I wanted to get involved with a community project to give something back to my local area. After living abroad for over ten years as a teacher, I was keen to work with young people and offer my skillset outside the classroom, in new environments. 

I found On The Hill, a community interest company in Teign Valley, that provides land based and experiential learning opportunities to a wide range of people. My first volunteering experience with On The Hill was with Hill Tribe, as a facilitator on a week long camp for 12-16 year olds. The camp brought together young people from different backgrounds and gave them exciting experiences, building connections with themselves, their surroundings and each other. There was a particular focus on mental health and wellbeing, and the importance of community, which is often lacking in young people people’s lives. It was rewarding for me to be part of that experience, as I got to see a group of young strangers come together and become a close-knit group.  

As well as volunteering locally, I also recently joined Balloon Circus as a Trustee. Balloon Circus visits underprivileged children around the world, creating play days with balloons and circus workshops, with the aim of awakening the inner performer and empowering children to sharpen their, physical, mental, and social skills. When you think of what children in orphanages in developing countries need, I think most people would say, food, water, clothes etc. Balloon Circus gives children a unique fun and memorable learning experience and an opportunity to try something they have never had the chance to do before. So far Balloon Circus has visited 155 orphanages in South America, South East Asia, and South Africa, and it gives me a great feeling knowing that I can help the Balloon Circus to visit more children in the future.  

With this year’s theme for World Mental Health Day being 'make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority', I like to feel in some small way that I am contributing to that mission whilst enhancing my own mental health and wellbeing by volunteering and contributing my time to these two great and invaluable charities. 

Chris Wright. 

If you would like to volunteer or donate towards these charities, please see the below:

Image source: Who We Are - Balloon Circus

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