• Be a trustee; be happy

    In today’s fast-paced, consumer-driven world we are often reminded that happiness is not to be found in the things we own but in the connections we make with others. And I absolutely believe that this is true.

    As today is the UN International Day of Happiness, I’m thinking about the things that make me happy. And it turns out I am happiest when doing something for others.

    A review by the NHS found that volunteering has a positive impact on self-esteem, depression, stress, emotional exhaustion, our ability to cope with illness and general life satisfaction.

    A great way to volunteer is to become a trustee for a charity. It’s something open to all ages and backgrounds and with over half of all charities currently with a trustee vacancy, it’s very much needed too!

    Trusteeships can complement and add value to life in all sorts of ways, helping you to develop new skills for personal and professional development, giving you experience of other communities and cultures, and bringing about positive change for all involved. Being a trustee is great for teamwork, meeting new people, learning skills, visiting different places and embracing opportunities.

    I’m a trustee for two charities - one local and one international. Through my roles I’ve learnt a huge amount about teamwork and professional development and both have given me a host of unique and varied experiences plus new networks of high level contacts.

    If you decide to become a trustee, and I hope that you do, then the personal and professional rewards are high – just as much as you give, you’ll get ten-fold in return.

    The time commitment is not unreasonable and your responsibilities are clearly defined, so you really should not worry about over-stretching yourself or doing something wrong.

    And if you think that you have nothing to offer, think again! We all have skills and experience that we can use on a trustee board to make a difference and help others. From legal and finance experts to people who can take a photo that tells a story – charities need all sorts of people to help them thrive.

    Interested? Why not contact your favourite local charity and see if they have a trustee vacancy? Or have a look on www.do-it.org.uk and use their trustee search. For more guidance or if you have questions, www.gettingonboard.org runs a signposting service – a 30-minute phone call and a follow-up including details of four possible appointments that could help you bring more happiness into your life, and the lives of others.

    by Katherine Sparkes, Director at Flamingo

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