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The Benefits of Volunteering

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Sal Gordon is a Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapist. She works both online and in person, and can be contacted at

Sal has had a long career in the aviation industry before retraining with The Quest Institute and during the pandemic became a manager in the volunteer sector, so has first-hand experience.

It’s Volunteers’ Week from 1st – 7th June. 

This is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering in their communities.

The Benefits of Volunteering…

Did you know there are over 1 billion volunteers globally? In 2021 alone, approximately £20bn was contributed to the UK economy from the voluntary sector. In the midst of the pandemic, I witnessed first-hand the outpouring of support on the ‘front line’ from the amazing voluntary community. Despite the risk of testing positive for a virus that was still seemingly out of control – here they were! These amazing human beings, standing side by side with the NHS workforce (sometimes in freezing conditions) for nothing more than their bus fare and a biscuit with their cup of tea.

My twenty-six-year flying career had just ended, owing to the catastrophic impact COVID19 had had on the aviation industry, and so I answered the call from the British government for Cabin Crew and Fire Service to train as immunisers to help to vaccinate the country. It was here that I had my first introduction to volunteers, as well as the reason I decided to train as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist. As one door closes…another opens.

So, in February 2021 – braving the zero-degree temperature (as all doors and windows had to be left open) I began my first twelve-hour shift. I was instantly struck by the camaraderie of the volunteers, how slick their operation was, and how flexible they had to be in this unknown situation. People from all walks of life, experience, and age groups were here to assist and do their bit for our country. The co-ordinators (also volunteers) organised and led their teams, briefing them on ever-changing protocols and keeping them updated so they could manage the 1000 appointments a day (which soon became 2000!) with great finesse. Despite the freezing temperatures, the many challenging patients, and the frequent crashing of technical equipment, they turned up day after day. Always smiling, always looking to be of service in some way or another and supporting the NHS and a country in crisis more than I think they will ever know.

Eventually, I became the manager of this wonderful group. Chichester Vaccination Centre had in excess of 140 volunteers, and I have the utmost respect for every single one of them. They themselves became like a family and still regularly meet up and reminisce about the fun they had during those two years. They say the benefits of volunteering are having a sense of purpose, giving back to your community, learning new skills, building confidence, and making new friends. I can definitely vouch for this and if you are thinking of volunteering yourself, I say – go for it. It really can be incredibly rewarding, and your service is invaluable. Plus, there is a whole heap of available opportunities all over the country.

Aside from the outpouring of support during the pandemic, people come to volunteering for all sorts of reasons. Some look for companionship and some wish to make new friends. Some have retired but are not ready to stop work completely, while others are looking to progress in their careers and choose to volunteer to gain experience. Some feel they just want to give something back to their community.

Whether the reason is mindfulness, social, or just curiosity, it’s fair to say many businesses, charities and even our NHS could not function without the voluntary sector. It is also worth noting that working as a volunteer tends to be on your terms. If you want to go on a last-minute holiday – you can. If you need to take time out for an unexpected appointment – it’s no problem. As long as there is good communication and you can commit to the role you have taken, it is way more flexible than being a paid employee.

So, what led me to train as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist? Self-harm. Seeing scars, both old and new, was sadly a frequent occurrence during the pandemic and it had a big impact on me. I knew I had to find a way to try to alleviate some of the unspoken pain I was witnessing. I also recognised that this was not just something that happened whilst in lockdown. It isn’t new and it is still a very real thing. Thankfully, there is help out there. Not only has Cognitive Hypnotherapy helped so many people free themselves from the need to self-harm, but there are also many wonderful volunteers providing emotional support for individuals as well.

But what’s the biggest benefit to being a volunteer?   Did you know that volunteering is linked to improved mental health and overall well-being, it reduces your stress and increases positive, relaxed feelings by releasing dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter. By spending time helping others, volunteers report feeling a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect.

Volunteers Week is a time to celebrate the dedication of this wonderful community and honour them for their commitment and care for others. Pre-covid, in the confines of an aeroplane, I had never really given much thought to the value a volunteer brings. Now, I cannot praise them enough. In my eyes, they are all champions and their generous contribution to the UK is both crucial and heart-warming. To all past, present and future volunteers – from the bottom of my heart, thank you! You are amazing and our nation is all the better for having you.

Why not check out the following websites, or search ‘volunteering’ to give you plenty of options. Local hospitals, hospices and charity shops have a vast range of roles to suit all interests.

You can find Sal and other QCH practitioners using the therapist finder