How to help out in your local community

Giving up some of your free time and energy to help in your local community is unlikely to be something you'll regret. Instead, engaging in the area you live in will lead you to forge connections with new people, experience new things and enrich your life.

There are so many ways to get involved and give back to your local community. What you choose to do really depends on your personality, the time you have available and any skills that you want to use in this pursuit.

Many towns and cities will have community hubs that you can reach out to for information about existing initiatives that are available to join or upcoming events. Alternatively, you can approach specific organisations for opportunities or even spearhead a project yourself.

Here at companiions, we’ve put together a list of 8 fun ideas for helping the community that can get you started with making positive change where you live.  

Listen to children read

One in four primary children leaves school unable to read at the standard level for their age. This situation particularly affects disadvantaged children and can have a lasting impact on their language skills, career prospects and self-esteem.

However, adults who listen to children to read and help them to develop comprehension skills can be part of overcoming this issue. If you are interested in listening to a child read, you can contact your local school to see if they need volunteers. Alternatively, you can submit an application to Schoolreaders which pairs volunteers with schools.

Organise a litter pick

In the UK, more than 2 million pieces of litter are dropped every day. Not only is litter unsightly but it can also stunt or kill plant life, cause harm to wildlife and damage habitats.

If you’ve spotted a location in your local area that is rife with wrappers and cans, why not organise a litter pick? It will take a little planning, however. Firstly, you’ll need permission from the landowners to litter pick as a group and if recruiting other volunteers, you’ll need to carry out a risk assessment. It’s also a good idea to check if you’ll need public liability insurance. Once this has been done, set a date and time, gather your equipment and get to work with other like-minded individuals.

Become a companiion

We understand if you want to get involved in helping the community but would also like to make some extra money in doing so. Luckily companiions can help you with both.

By becoming a companiion, you can support people in your local area that need it most. This could be helping someone who could do with an extra pair of hands looking after an elderly relative, or someone that works long hours and needs errands running on their behalf.

Through the easy-to-use app, you can create your companiion profile, set your availability and list your hourly rate, up to £25 per hour. All that’s left to do is wait for someone that needs your help to get in touch.  

Undertake random acts of kindness

A random act of kindness (RAOK) is an off-the-cuff action or gift that someone gives, simply to make the world a better place and brighten someone's day. If this sounds like something you can get behind, it's a straightforward thing to do. Simply pick an act and do it! Examples of random acts of kindness include:

  • Paying for someone’s food shopping in the supermarket
  • Leaving a bouquet of flowers at someone’s door
  • Mowing the grass for an elderly neighbour
  • Cooking a meal for a family down the road
  • Inviting someone to join you for an outing

Support a local business

The last few years have highlighted the importance of shopping from independent stores and making the most of local restaurants and services. However, this suggestion isn't about purchasing from a local company. Instead, we are putting forward the idea of using whatever skills you have to help boost their business.

For example, if you're a whiz at all things digital, you could offer to create a website to showcase their products and tell their story. If you are handy with DIY, you could ask them if they need any fixtures put up in their premises or if they'd appreciate a storefront freshen-up with a new coat of paint.

Teach adults a new skill

Case studies have shown that adult and community education (ACE) has a huge range of benefits. It can help broaden job opportunities, improve confidence, and reduce loneliness, amongst other things.

You can be a part of this by using your knowledge and skills to teach other adults in your area something new. For example, if you are a qualified yoga instructor, you could run a free community class or if you have a passion for cooking, you could show low-income families how to create filling, healthy meals on a budget.  

Volunteer at an animal shelter

We’ve outlined several ideas that help people in your community but what about the animals that live in your local area? Volunteering at an animal shelter or charity is a worthwhile venture as you’d be directly contributing to the work they do in preventing cruelty to animals, alleviating suffering and finding forever homes for surrendered animals. Plus, think of all the snuggles you could get!

If you think you’re suited to helping with the welfare of animals, you can contact your local shelter to see if they need any help. Alternatively, you can check out the website of national organisations such as the RSPCA to search and apply for volunteer vacancies.

Start a community allotment

If you're green-fingered and patient, starting a community allotment could be a great method of helping the community and using your skills.

Community allotments have been popular for years as they bring people together, allow those involved to appreciate the natural landscape of the area, are a platform for education and yield produce that those in the community can use.

To get started, contact your local council or councillor to see if anyone else has registered interest. You can also put up notices in local venues or talk to your local paper to raise awareness. Once you have a group of people ready and waiting to get involved, it’s a good idea to make a plan for your allotment as this can help when it comes to the council or landowner considering your request.

For more guidance on starting a community allotment, Social Farms & Garden has written a fact sheet in collaboration with the Community Land Advisory Service which you may find useful.