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'Doing something positive': volunteers' experiences of the well-being benefits derived from practical conservation activities in nature

journal contribution
posted on 2010-12-01, 00:00 authored by L O'Brien, Mardie TownsendMardie Townsend, M Ebden
There is a strong tradition in Britain of volunteering involving a wide range of activities and organisations. Increasingly volunteering is seen as a way of benefiting health and building sustainable communities. In a study in 2007 we aimed to address the research questions: what are the motivations for, barriers to, and benefits of formal practical environmental volunteering for those individuals involved? Qualitative and quantitative data collection was undertaken while spending a day each with ten volunteer groups as they undertook their practical conservation activities. In this paper we focus primarily on the physical, mental and social well-being benefits that volunteers derived from their activities. Our research involved 88 people volunteering regularly in a range of places from scenic natural landscapes to urban green spaces in northern England and southern Scotland. Respondents described a range of benefits they gained from their involvement including improved fitness, keeping alert, meeting others and reducing stress levels. We suggest that practical environmental volunteering has flexibility in the types of activity available and the time scale in which activities are undertaken and therefore can provide a range of physical, social and mental well-being benefits to people with very differing abilities and from different socio-economic backgrounds.

History

Journal

Voluntas

Volume

21

Issue

4

Pagination

525 - 545

Publisher

Springer

Location

New York, N.Y.

ISSN

0957-8765

eISSN

1573-7888

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2010, International Society for Third-Sector Research and The John's Hopkins University

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