Can we make 2015 a good year?
Across Kirklees since 2015 began, thousands of us have been making our New Year’s resolutions: most frequently about breaking bad habits and giving things up. And statistics tell us by the start of the third working week, more than three quarters of those resolutions will have been broken. It made me wonder if our New Year’s resolutions were more about doing new things and developing good habits if they would have more chance of success. Giving back all year round, and not just giving up in January.
I’ve been out to visit a lot of projects in Kirklees in the last 6 months, and I’ve met some amazing volunteers doing invaluable work. There is always room for more though, particularly as our financial climate means groups are increasingly trying to do more with less, and volunteers are desperately trying to fill gaps where they see them.
As part of the Cities of Service programme we are developing in Kirklees, one of my starting points has been that it’s not as easy as it should be for people to find ways of “giving back” that suit our lifestyles and skills. It’s part of my own 2015 resolutions to do what I can to change that. I’ll be working with all those organisations who could use people’s time and energy, to find the best ways to promote these opportunities so people know what they can contribute. I’ll also be working with these organisations to create the kinds of opportunities that match the kind of time we can all spare easily.
But it’s not just formal volunteering I mean when I think about ways of giving. I’ve also spoken with lots of people who informally give their time too: people who check on their elderly neighbours, people who give lifts to those who need them, people who bake cakes, wash football kits, mow lawns, change light bulbs and much much more.
All throughout the year though, I’m utterly convinced there are ways to make better use of a spare hour in a week, a month or even one hour in the whole year. And I’m equally convinced it could make a massive difference to all of our lives if we did. All the available evidence shows that volunteers don’t just make others happy, but the act of volunteering brings demonstrable benefits in personal health and wellbeing, social networks and satisfaction.
When I looked at the numbers for expanding on what we already do, I was staggered at the sheer volume of potential there is to tap in to:
If everyone over 16 in Kirklees gave just one hour in the year that would create 932 hours of volunteer time every day of the year.
One hour each a week, would unlock a staggering 17.7 million hours on every day of the year.
Imagine what we could achieve if we directed these 6 billion hours this year towards good causes in Kirklees in 2015...
Perhaps, more realistically, if one in four of us gave an hour a month, this would push us into more than 2015 extra hours for every day of this New Year. So the real questions we could all ask ourselves is:
Could I contribute at least one of those hours?
This blog was originally published on the “I’m in Kirklees” website. Click here to view the original blog.