Do something amazing!

A lot of people might think that they don’t have time to volunteer and it won’t be of any benefit to them, but the Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend is trying to alter opinions by raising awareness of the true value volunteering offers.

Research has shown that volunteers gain an increased sense of happiness from their activities, resulting in greater emotional and physical wellbeing. Volunteering has been proven to be an effective way for people to alleviate the symptoms of depression, loneliness and isolation, and the longer someone volunteers the greater their wellbeing will benefit.

Simon Kingsley-Young has been volunteering in Haywards Heath since 2015. “Volunteering can help gain confidence by giving you the chance to try something new and build a real sense of achievement. What you do also has a real and valuable positive affect on people, communities and society in general so you feel like you make a difference.”

Barbara Lank started volunteering in a Romanian orphanage and now spends a lot of time volunteering at Haywards Heath events. Barbara said: “Volunteering is a wonderful hobby that can give you a new lease of life. You are rewarded with thanks, smiles, a feel good factor, a healthy and improved mind set.”

Read their stories below;

Barbara Lank

How did you start volunteering?
Having had to give up work before retirement because of a disability, I needed something to fill my time. I had led a very active life – either a sedentary job with lots of outside sports and activities or, ending up as I did, working in horticulture when I was often so tired, I would fall asleep as soon as I got home! It seemed no sooner that I had got my first voluntary job than I was inundated with requests to help out as a volunteer. I picked my favourites out of the many opportunities on offer but so many of them are very worthwhile and crying out for people that it is hard at times to turn someone down.

Can you tell us about some of your volunteering experiences?
One of my earlier volunteering events was going out to Romania to work in an orphanage after the fall of the Eastern European Pact. That was a real eye-opener, I came home and couldn’t believe how clean everything was, how orderly the traffic was going along in lanes and how I could get almost anything I wished, had I got the money. Whilst I continue to campaign for different things in this country, I do now think about how things are for people who do not have our relative wealth.

Where do you volunteer at the moment?
I do a fair amount of volunteering for a wide selection of very different groups but probably the majority of it is indoors such as committee meetings, fund raising etc. On my “outdoor in spring” group, I started off volunteering for the Haywards Heath Spring Festival as I was on the “South East in Bloom” group for the town and from there I was asked to volunteer for both the Haywards Heath Bike Ride and the Mid Sussex Marathon. I love all of these opportunities because it is out in the fresh air with normally reasonable weather and it does make you feel really good at the end of any and all of these opportunities.

What do you particularly enjoy about volunteering?
One of the nicest things I have got from volunteering is the people I meet and the friends I make – my circle of friends has widened considerably though I hope people understand when I don’t always recognise them or remember their names!

Do you have any notable achievements?
I have been very honoured to be the recipient of three awards for my community work – two from Mid Sussex District Council and one from the Clarion Housing Association (previously known as Affinity Sutton).

How would you encourage other people to start volunteering their time?
To anyone with spare time on their hands, I would suggest volunteering. It is a wonderful hobby in itself; you choose your hours, days and the type of thing that interests you – did you ever get that in work? Now is your opportunity, give yourself a new lease of life and try having a go at all these different jobs – you will, hopefully, be rewarded with thanks, smiles, a feel good factor, a healthy and improved mind set and who knows what else?

Simon Kingsley-Young

How did you start volunteering?
I first started volunteering with The Bentswood Community Partnership, based in Haywards Heath in March 2015. I felt that due to my experience and knowledge of social media and I.T., as well as a very keen interest in photography, that I could offer my services to these organizations.

Can you tell us about some of your volunteering experiences?
I have volunteered at a few of the local events, which include both the Greater Haywards Heath Bike Ride as well as the Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend. I also take an active role on a couple of the various groups, usually involving Events and Communications. I am also a regular volunteer at both the Haywards Heath local Parkruns.

What do you particularly enjoy about volunteering?
There are a number of reasons why I volunteer. Volunteering can help gain confidence by giving you the chance to try something new and build a real sense of achievement. What you do also has a real and valuable positive affect on people, communities and society in general so you feel like you make a difference. Through volunteering I have met many different kinds of people and made a number of friends. It helps me to feel part of a community, something outside of friends and family.
All volunteering opportunities have allowed me to learn new skills and gain experience, sometimes there are even opportunities to gain new qualifications. I have found that through volunteering you can challenge yourself to try something different, achieve personal goals, practice using your skills and discover hidden talents. But most importantly you have fun! Most volunteers have a great time, regardless of why they do it.
Do you have any notable experiences or memories?
I help out at the Haywards Heath Parkruns (Clair Park and Victoria Park) most weekends and completed my 100th session in December 2016.

The runners or participants will always show their appreciation, usually by shouting out a “Thank You” as they pass by, or as one guy did at the Burgess Hill leg of the Mid-Sussex Marathon Weekend, stopped and shook my hand…boy did I feel mightily appreciative that he took that time to stop!

What have you achieved through volunteering?
Giving time to various events and causes is helping me get through the toughest part of life whilst I deal with depression. I am so grateful for the support that I have received from the local residents who attend these organised events as well as the organisations themselves.

How would you encourage other people to start volunteering their time?
My message to anyone thinking about volunteering at the Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend, or other organised events, is….DO-IT! By giving some of your time to other people I can assure you that they will be grateful and you will also make some great friends along the way! It should also be remembered that by volunteering, you allow these events to run safely.

Organised events are a good start to finding a volunteering opportunity that’s right for you. The events are fun, rewarding and beneficial to both sides. It can also open-up more opportunities to volunteer elsewhere; it’s almost infectious and addictive.

I feel that giving up the time for the benefit of others is not only good for others but helps raise the Serotonin (the happy hormone) levels in my body too. So, it’s a win-win situation!!

• Always put your name on your running top for longer races, as when your head goes down somebody taking the time to shout your name really lifts your spirits.
• At the end of the day….enjoy!

east-grinstead-0005

Both Simon and Barbara will be volunteering their time as course marshals during this year’s Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend, once again. Read their stories in full and register your support today.