A newly released report has enabled a greater understanding of the impact volunteering has on wellbeing, ahead of National Meals on Wheels Day.
Meals on Wheels Australia, the peak body for community meals providers in Australia, is highlighting the life-changing and irreplaceable role its over 45,000 volunteers make to the lives of vulnerable, older Australians everyday, during its annual celebration, held on the last Wednesday of August.
The report by Huber Social measured the social impact of Meals on Wheels and the importance of meaningful customer and volunteer connection, further supporting the essential role Meals on Wheels services play within almost every Australian community.
Key findings include:
- Meals on Wheels volunteers have higher wellbeing than other Australians – when compared with a sample of comparable Australians, Meals on Wheels volunteers were found to have 10 percent higher wellbeing. When compared to volunteers of a similar age group and volunteer time commitment in a different organisation, Meals on Wheels volunteers still report having 4 percent higher overall wellbeing.
- Volunteering with Meals on Wheels builds a sense of belonging – Meals on Wheels volunteers who have been supporting their community for at least six years reported significantly higher scores across factors related to their sense of belonging.
- The more customers get to know their Meals on Wheels volunteers, the higher their reported wellbeing. For example, customers who know their volunteers ‘a little’, ‘somewhat’ and ‘very well’ were found to have positive improvements in their wellbeing by 3%, 9%, and 18%, respectively.
President of Meals on Wheels Australia, Sharyn Broer says volunteers are the driving force of Meals on Wheels and without their significant and valuable contribution, Meals on Wheels wouldn’t be able to deliver on its mission of enabling wellness, connection and independence.
“Volunteer involvement is crucial to the wellbeing of the people we serve. Findings from Huber Social’s national study show just how much impact these caring people have on the lives of the people we support, as well as what they get back themselves,” Mrs Broer says.
“For almost 70 years, we have been delivering nourishing meals to the home, but the benefits of Meals on Wheels go beyond the meal itself, helping older Australians remain socially engaged and connected to their community. We have great food, and we have great people.”
Chief Integrity Officer at Huber Social, Brett Nan Tie said “It’s not just nutrition that’s making an impact…although that is also important, it’s much much more than that.”
Mrs Broer says over the last two years many Australians have experienced loneliness and isolation on unprecedented levels.
“The Meals on Wheels service enables both vulnerable Australians and volunteers to remain connected to their communities at a time where it is needed most.”
“We often hear of the impact our service makes to the people we serve, but meaningful volunteering also has a direct benefit to our wellbeing and sense of belonging,” Mrs Broer says.
This Meals on Wheels Day, Meals on Wheels is calling on Australians to ‘stand up and get connected’ by joining the volunteer ranks at their local Meals on Wheels service.
“It might be a few hours a week but the power of connection and the real benefits to your health and wellbeing mean our volunteers always get back more than they give,” Mrs Broer says.
To reach out to your local service about volunteering opportunities near you, visit https://mealsonwheels.org.au/get-support/find-your-local-service/