Wellbeing Week - Volunteering & Giving

Giving is goooood. Research shows that those who give money, time or skills to charitable causes feel more positive, more grateful, closer to their community and even have lower blood pressure! Here's some great causes that Colcestrians are championing in our lil ol' town that could do with your help.

When we give to others, we don’t only make them feel more benevolent to us, we also feel closer to them. From personal experience the Colchester Life team can attest that getting involved in the community leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably - the more you look for the good in people, the more it is evident. Two independent studies in America have shown that giving money away raises your happiness' levels significantly more than spending the same amount of money on yourself.

Colchester is literally choc-full of people who get a warm glow from working to help others, and would love for you to help you lower your stress levels by doing the same. Let us give you a little selection and see what tickles your philanthropic fancy!

GO4 Cafe at the Rec is a true community hub. Pepi and her team work with vulnerable young adults, NEETs and the marginalised, offering training and work opportunities in catering and customer service, they run a pay-it-forward scheme providing hot food and drinks for the homeless, allow the space to be used at no cost to community groups, host family fun days and charity events, organise litter-picking AND are championing the elimination of single-use plastics! Phew! But their work has been set back several times by mindless vandalism and attempted thefts which have damaged the doors, windows and store room. They have no CCTV outside and the police have been unable to identify the culprits. So whilst continuing all their good work they have started crowdfunding for repairs and to be able to install a security system. Every pound counts so take a look here to see if you can help.

And speaking of plastics (did you spot the tenuous link?!), Colchester is leading the way in the UK with the first plastic shredding and repurposing scheme outside of London, Replastic. This is a truly revolutionary recycling opportunity with inclusive community involvement. It's a non-industrial scaled solution that can recycle 6 of the 7 types of plastic - including many things that aren't recycled by the council. With the first of the four machines needed ready, the initiative will begin by collecting domestic and commercial plastic waste from an already agreed network of collection points amongst local independent cafes. But money is needed to buy the second machine, and it's much less than you think. See if you can donate a pound or two here.

If you're short on wonga but would still like to get that altruistic 'helper's high' that can have such positive effect on your wellbeing, then talk to the inspirational Helping People In Need in Colchester. This group go above and beyond to offer practical support, needed items and a friendly ear to those forced to sleep rough in our town. Helping can be as easy as donating warm clothing or an old but servicable sleeping bag, but they also need storage space and people to pick up donations and drop them off. The group is one of the most genuinely selfless Colchester Life has ever encountered.

And if it's the best of Colchester you're after, then another incredible organisation that showcases just that is the BIG Sunday festival. This totally free-to-attend event brings together music, art, theatre, poetry, food, dance, community and culture across tens of venues in the cultural quarter, and showcasing everything from a full-scale grime opera to Shakespeare to childrens' performance poetry. A veritable army of volunteers makes this possible, but the small amount of funding needed this year to stage a couple of extra special events has been elusive. So, yes, you guessed it! Crowdfunding it is: If you love the arts then there can be no better way of showing it by supporting the BIG Sunday team here.

There are so many worthy groups and enterprises in our town, and so many remarkable Colcestrians going above and beyond, that you're sure to find a cause close to your heart. A little time, a few pounds could make all the difference to them, and a world of difference to your wellbeing.