How to improve your quality of life by becoming a Creative Volunteer

Espression Arts has always been well known for its delivery of creative projects and arts and wellbeing projects in a range of care settings and environments in Kent. The benefits of these projects on our wide range of participants are vast and the focus of our blog - How to improve your quality of life by becoming a Creative Volunteer. The benefits of our projects are not only seen in the participants and clients but also shared with the amazing army of Creative Volunteers who give up their time to enable even the hardest to reach individuals to access art and benefit from its power.


We recruit, train, support, and reward our delivery team to become amazing Creative Volunteers who help others more vulnerable than ourselves to enjoy creativity, increase confidence and connect with others.

Many of our Creative Volunteers are older people themselves, some are recently retired, some are recovering from or living with their own illness’s both physical and mental health, some are creative people and others are not, but they all see the value in Espression Arts and love the way we work.

Our Creative Volunteers choose to contribute to their community by giving their time. They support our project leads which build our capacity to deliver more creative opportunities and engage even the hardest to reach participants through befriending, rapport building, and encouragement.

Espression Arts is an award-winning social enterprise, recognised for its care, support, and retention of Creative Volunteers. This blog outlines How volunteering improves your quality of life whilst helping others by becoming a Creative Volunteer.

Build new skills and try new things
Our Creative volunteers have a range of different skills and reasons for contributing their time. Some are very creative people who want to share these making skills with others. Some have had a career in the community and have professional skills working with people but want to learn more about how to use creativity. Some younger volunteers want to expand their skills to seek employment. Some want to build their confidence after an illness. Everyone has different valuable experiences to share and there is always something to learn. Starting Creative Volunteering is a great way to enrich your life and feel inspired and motivated.
"I decided to become a volunteer for Our Work of Art because I love helping people, making them smile and I felt I had so much to give" Creative Volunteer

We provide in-the-role training and development as well as online modules in key policy and procedures. We also have monthly Volunteer Network Zoom Meetings in order for our team to learn about opportunities to help and also feed into the decision-making within Espression Arts. If you would like to see some of the projects our wonderful Creative Volunteers have helped with, take a look here.


Make new friends
Using your free time to get involved in a community project you care about is a great opportunity to meet new people with shared interests and similar passions. Often you will meet people whom you might not otherwise find yourself in contact with. This can lead to new friendships and a broader social support network that can become an enriching part of your life. We find many of our volunteers live by themselves and during the pandemic they supported each other, keeping in touch, doorstep visits to each other, strengthening existing relationships and friendships in the process. Friendships emerge as our Creative Volunteers work with the staff team to build, prepare, and deliver creative projects working together towards a shared goal.
If you’re someone who finds interacting with people causes feelings of stress or anxiety, volunteering may seem like a difficult task. However, we have evaluated our projects and ask regularly for feedback from our Creative Volunteers, and it shows an increase in confidence and wellbeing in all participants and a decrease in social avoidance. The Arts and Crafts delivered and the focus on practical tasks distracts from the direct conversation. If volunteers or participants are not yet ready we also offer a range of roles and working environments, size of the group, etc which enables new Creative Volunteers to grow and build confidence over time with training and support.
"FacebookGiven I am not on email or on Facebook, the Volunteer Network Meetings at Espression Arts have been fantastic for keeping me in the loop, and catching up with the team for a chat, I feel these meetings have brought us all closer together" Creative Volunteer
Become part of your community?
Espression Arts delivers projects in different settings in many different locations in Kent offering Creative Volunteers the opportunity to become part of their community. Espression Connects Communities with Creativity, our projects are a great way for you to become more connected to your community. If you are missing the feelings of usefulness and purpose giving your time to help others is both meaningful and productive. Creative Volunteering can help build friendships with like-minded people, it can build your skills and give you chance to try many new things.


Improved Mental Health
Kindness and delivering acts of kindness gives us a fantastic feeling, it’s uplifting and enjoyable for both parties involved. There are many pieces of research that prove increased mental health and feelings of wellbeing, especially those who are more vulnerable or struggling. Volunteering regularly and doing something you enjoy helping others is a perfect act of kindness and can boost your emotional and mental health long after the event.
"My general wellbeing improved a lot and my self-esteem has soared. I am no longer withdrawn and depressed" Creative Volunteer

Improve your physical health
Commitment to regular volunteering can boost your physical health as well as your mental health. Volunteering could result in you spending more time physically moving. It offers routine and structure to an otherwise empty week. Creative Volunteering encourages individuals to engage more with their community, they get up off the sofa and stop watching phones, television and take a break from technology. Fresh air does you good and having the purpose to leave your home to go to a safe place really helps. Helping others can lead to an increase in walking moving your body, a distraction from physical aches pains and personal illness for moments. Participation in arts, crafts and conversation helps time to pass quickly and happily.


Increase your happiness
“You’re happy when you help others become happy” The Dali lama.
Going into a care home as a Creative Volunteer and supporting someone with dementia to laugh and smile making something with clay lifts my heart. Helping a person with limited vision to paint a mug as a gift for a loved one and enjoy the process of both painting and gift-giving is so special. Creative Volunteers laugh, smile, and share their experiences with others, putting others first and helping them achieve tasks lifts mood, increases the sense of belonging, feelings of purpose, and happiness.


Espression Arts consults with its Creative Volunteers often throughout projects via regular monthly meetings, team feedback, and individual feedback. Each Creative Volunteer is engaged in a closed Facebook group where we can share news and opportunities. The well-being of our volunteers is important to us. We support our team fully and as a result retain volunteers. When our volunteers become old and vulnerable, unwell, or their personal situations change they are invited to become participants on our projects, supported by others.
If you would like to check out case studies written by some of our volunteers, follow this link here.

Summary
I hope that this blog has shown you How to improve your quality of life by becoming a Creative Volunteer with Espression Arts – How helping others with the power of kindness and support can both improve your physical and mental health. How it can help you to belong in the community you live in, make friendships and be all around happier as a result of Creative Volunteering.
If you have read this blog and would like to become a Creative Volunteer or find out more please complete this automated form.

For more reading about the impact of our projects on the community, I recommend reading this popular, blog now.