Six ways to help your community

Supporting your local community can bring a whole host of benefits to you and the people around you. Lending a helping hand can help you to make new friends, learn new skills, advance your career and, most importantly, give something back.

A woman holding a box of toys and books in a charity shop

At OneFamily we believe in supporting local communities. Since 2015 we’ve helped over 150,000 people through our support of individuals and community projects.

As a customer-owned business we reinvest our profits, and part of this is helping our customers (or members, as we like to call them) do something special for people around them facing financial hardship and contribute to community projects.

How to help your local community

1. Get involved as a volunteer

There are lots of volunteering opportunities out there. Look for things that appeal to you, things you have done before, things you are good at or things you’d like to try. It could even be the start of a new career path for you.

You could try:

  • Mentoring a young person
  • Being a school governor
  • Visiting someone in hospital
  • Working on conservation projects
  • Working on other community projects
  • Working in a charity shop

You can use this tool to find your local volunteer centre or use Do-it’s volunteer search tool to find opportunities online. Reach is the place to find volunteering opportunities where you can leverage your professional skills.

If you would consider becoming a trustee of a charity – typically you’d have some professional finance, fundraising or IT experience – try the Trustee vacancy search tool. You can find out more about what being a trustee is all about here.

As well as benefits for the community, volunteering can be an excellent way to beat loneliness. Vicky experienced loneliness when she was 19 after being involved in a driving accident. Volunteering with the British Red Cross got her out of the house to help other people, which helped her a lot.

2. Support local businesses

Local businesses are an important part of local communities that are always under pressure from bigger national and multi-national competitors.

The best ways to support local businesses is to spend money with them, but there are other ways to help:

  • Tell your friends and family about your favourite local businesses.
  • Follow and support local businesses on social media.
  • Leave positive reviews.

3. Tidy up

Small things like litter picking and gardening can help to make your local area a nicer place to live for everyone.

Keep Britain Tidy help connect #LitterHeroes to organise clean-ups in their communities, but there’s nothing to stop you organising your own using real life contacts or social media.

If you spot bigger issues in your community - like graffiti, fly-tipping, fly-posting, potholes or abandoned cars – you can use Love Clean Streets to report it to your local authority and get it sorted out.

4. Help your neighbours

Charity starts at home, and community starts with everyone around you. Many people suffer financial, physical or psychological problems in silence.

Loneliness was identified by ex-Prime Minister Theresa May as “one of the greatest public health challenges of our time”. It’s estimated that up to a fifth of all UK adults feel lonely most or all of the time. It’s often linked with psychological problems, but it is also associated with a significantly higher risk of disease and mortality.

Take the time to get to know the people around you and see how you can help them. It could be planning a budget, doing the food shopping or just having a chat. You never know how much a little of your time can help someone in need.

5. Donate things

Helping the community doesn’t have to mean donating time or money, charities can benefit from your unwanted possessions.

Consider donating unwanted clothing, jewellery, media, books and homeware to charity shops. The British Heart Foundation – who raise money to fund research into cures and treatments for heart and circulatory diseases – even offer to collect items like these for free.

Use of food banks is on the rise. The Trussel Trust, who operate a nationwide network of food banks, distributed a record 1.6 million emergency food parcels to people in crisis in the 2018/2019 financial year, a 19% increase on 2017/2018 and 73% increase over five years.

You can find your local foodbank using this Trussel Trust tool. Consider hosting your own collection at school, church or a local business if you really want to make a difference.

6. Donate money

If you can spare some money local charities are always in need. When you give, make sure your money goes to the right place by:

  • Check fundraising materials for charity name, registered number and landline contact number.
  • Check the ID badge of any street collectors and ensure that tins or buckets are sealed and undamaged.
  • Check the charity is legitimate using the UK charity checker tool.

OneFamily customers (or members, as we like to call them) can nominate local community projects for funding. Find out more about the OneFamily Foundation and how we can help.

Helping the community is good for you and good for those around you. Whether you spend time on a community project, donate unwanted clothing or just tidy up, giving something back can help you too.

About the OneFamily Foundation

The OneFamily Foundation is all about you, your family and your local community. We don’t pay dividends to shareholders, which allows us to reinvest a percentage of our profits to give something back to you.  

And if you're a OneFamily customer with an active policy, register with the Foundation to see how you can make the most of this excellent customer benefit.

Teenages holding flags in a group photo

Note: We take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication. Individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.