National Volunteer Week (NVW) is Australia’s largest annual celebration of its almost six million volunteers. Nextdoor’s purpose is to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighbourhood they can rely on, and community volunteers are essential to establishing stronger local network. This year’s theme is Recognise. Reconnect. Reimagine which urges us all to celebrate and thank volunteers for the vital role they play in our lives, to reconnect to what is important by giving our time to help others, and to reimagine how we better support volunteers and the communities they serve.
Volunteering has been proven to be good for your general wellbeing, yet Australia has seen a decline in volunteering since 2010. Volunteers not only live longer, but 82% of older adults report that volunteering helps them feel less lonely, according to a Senior Corps report. In our recent research study with Swinburne University, we found that performing small acts of kindness for your neighbours can reduce feelings of loneliness. We’re talking about simple, Covid-safe actions such as mowing your neighbour’s lawn, dropping off groceries, or just saying ‘hello’ to someone you haven’t met before. These types of actions are considered ‘Informal volunteering’ which we see happening daily in Nextdoor neighbourhoods all over Australia, as well as formal volunteering.
We see Informal volunteering regularly via Nextdoor Groups and the Help Map – an interactive map of your neighbourhood where you can mark yourself as someone who can lend a hand to neighbours in need. Whether you can walk a neighbour’s dog, lend them a tool, or hop on the phone to check in on elderly and at-risk neighbours, you can add yourself to the map and share how you can support others. Neighbours in need of assistance can then message you through the Help Map. From its launch in March 2020 up until today, approximately 16,000 Nextdoor members have offered help.
We’d like to thank all of our Nextdoor members across Australia who continue to build stronger communities every single day. Your stories are inspiring, your efforts are appreciated, and your neighbourhoods are thriving.