Burley resident Adele Rae is heavily involved with volunteering in her community, regularly giving her time to help run local events, and supporting older people by opening up her own home to help tackle loneliness. Here, she tells the Dispatch why she does it and why other people across West Leeds should join in …
Why bother with community involvement? Well, there are several reasons, but primarily because it is enjoyable.
I have met so many wonderful people over the last few years, made new friends and acquaintances but more than that it allows me to contribute to the community that I live in. I’ve learned a lot and had opportunities which have enriched my life.
Times are tough, really tough! Britain currently has 3.7 million children and 1.8 million pensioners living in poverty.
The sad fact is that 63% of those children are from households with at least one working parent. Fuel and food poverty are a reality for many of the people living in our communities and loneliness and social isolation is rife.
As local authority budgets are cut the support available to those who are struggling and in need is less and less at a time they need it most.
But people don’t choose to be poor. Poverty can happen to nearly anyone.
Redundancy, ill health, relationship breakdowns and zero hour contracts make people vulnerable and things are set to get worse with the rolling out of Universal Credit and other changes to the benefit system and social housing.
This is a time when we need to come together to create a stronger, resilient society where we support each other.
We also need a find a voice to challenge the perception that poor people are lazy, worthless and lacking in ambition. My experience tells me that is far from the truth.
I appreciate community involvement is not for everyone but for those engaged with it, it really does enhance the quality of life.
Happier people are healthier people and research shows that being involved improves general wellbeing and actually makes you live longer. It certainly has a positive impact on mental health.
It is time for us to work together to create strong resilient and supportive neighbourhoods which will improve the life chances of our children, empower and enable individuals and families to be the best they can be.
Now is the time to be creative and look at different ways to achieve the things we want. We need to engage with the wider community, our local councillors and MPs and make our voice heard.
One step at a time we can change the world.
Are there local groups in your community you could volunteer for? Are there local causes that are close to your heart that you could find maybe an hour a week or month to support? Pop along to your local community centre or do a quick search online to find local groups or read about projects regularly featured on The Dispatch to see how you can get involved.