Volunteering is good for your health

Often, in small (and not so small) communities, the same few souls seem to volunteer for everything, leaving the majority to remain largely uninvolved.

Surprisingly, at the three Pantry community markets we’ve held so far, the number of people who have volunteered to help has been much larger than we could have hoped for. We’re not entirely sure why this should be – maybe because nothing like The Pantry has ever happened in Piddington before, or because it taps into the current trend for fresh seasonal, local produce, or perhaps simply because the Pantry People are just so ridiculously optimistic and enthusiastic about it all. Whatever the reason, people have stepped forward to help in droves, and their cheerful and friendly presence makes the market feel very welcoming – to both locals and outside stallholders alike.

More surprising to some of us was just how much people enjoy being volunteers. There’s an awful lot of laughter on Pantry days, and people are always ready to stay longer and help with the clearing up and putting away.

Clearly, people are getting something from volunteering, as well as giving something. I don’t think it too fanciful to say that joining together with other people to help with a worthwhile project can be good for your health – mental and physical.

With this in mind, I’d like to encourage people who haven’t yet tried volunteering for something in their community to give it a go.

In Piddington, for example, we have several village causes well worth supporting.

Of course, there’s the regular Pantry markets – the next one is on 7 September. If you’d like to be part of the very jolly band of volunteers, please email Maggie.

Then there is the Village Hall Management Committee. It’s frightening to think what Piddington would be without its Village Hall, but keeping it open and running as a vibrant part of our community needs a bit of organising. More members would not only mean more individuals to share the tasks but would also ensure that as many villagers as possible share the decisions taken about how best to use this precious resource. If you’d like to help, even if you don’t feel you can spare much time or commit to regular meetings, the committee would be really pleased to hear from you. Please email me.

St Nicholas’ Church has been part of Piddington since the 13th century, but over the next few years many costly repairs will be needed. We are such a small village, it’s hard to keep asking the same pool of people for funds for various causes, but I can’t imagine many Piddington residents would be happy to see this beautiful little Grade II* listed historic building closed up and sold off to a private buyer, as is the fate of so many village churches. Keep an eye out for notices about events relating to St Nicholas’ Church, and, if you are able to help with fundraising, please email Heather.

Last but not least, if you prefer a more outdoorsy type of activity, there is an opportunity to join Piddington’s  own Green Gym – the area of field and woodland at Widnell Park that is gradually being transformed into a nature reserve and wildlife haven. A lot of work has been done on it already, both by villagers and by the Oxfordshire Conservation Volunteers, but much more is needed, as well as ongoing maintenance. If you find going to the gym far too boring, why not join the Widnell Park volunteers and give yourself a workout with a purpose. Email Stan to be added to the list.

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Author: Hazel at The Pantry

I live in a small Oxfordshire village, and am writing a blog for The Pantry, a community project to provide the village with a place to meet and to buy locally made and sourced products.

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