Looking to get involved with community groups near you? Here are five ideas for doing your bit for the local area.
As a new member of your community, no doubt you’ll be processing a lot of emotions. Your journey so far collides with your hopes for the future, and it might leave you feeling overwhelmed.
The truth is far more encouraging; nobody is powerless to make a positive impact on the place they live. And because SPEAK is all about promoting active citizenship, we’ve picked up a tip or two about how you can change things for the better.
Volunteer with at-risk groups
Wherever in the world you find yourself, there will be those with the means to help themselves and those without. Your local authority should be able to point you to ways you can spend a few hours each week volunteering with vulnerable people.
This might include:
- Mentoring young people via schools or youth groups
- Offering companionship and conversation to elderly people
- Helping care for the homeless at shelters or soup kitchens
While helping people is often its own reward, these schemes typically come with benefits for you as well. Most are run via accredited schemes by the local government, so they look great on your CV.
You’re also going to meet like-minded people and build a network of fellow volunteers. Plenty of community projects start life as a bright idea shared by two motivated, positive people.
Share your favourite hobbies
What did you take the most joy from doing back home? You might have played on a sports team, made music, studied martial arts, the list is endless. If there’s no outlet for your chosen pastime where you find yourself now, create one.
Spend an hour or so on Facebook scanning your local community groups. That’ll give you a solid idea of what’s going on in your area and what gaps you can fill. People are always going to appreciate having more options for things to do, and you never know who you might meet.
Clean up the town
It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. Some areas, particularly urban areas, have a litter problem and lack the funding to be proactive about it. You can help with this often-thankless task by picking some of it up.
If you decide to do this, be sensible about it. Plan a route for a nice walk and bring some rubber gloves with you, as well as a bin bag. Prime candidates for litter picking are sports grounds, children’s play areas, parks, and beauty spots.
Lead by example, but don’t feel like you have to take the entire burden onto yourself. Using social media, you can organise groups of community-spirited people to join you in your mission.
Join community action groups
This one might seem obvious to some, but intimidating to others. Depending on where you’re from and where you find yourself, many newcomers feel like there’s a barrier to joining community groups, or even taking part in local politics.
In practice, this is rarely the case. These groups will always benefit from an injection of diverse voices and opinions. As for you, you’ll benefit from connecting with the local area on a deeper level and understanding more about your new neighbours.
Newcomers often use these groups as a springboard to make connections in other areas of life. It doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment if you don’t want it to be; you can do a lot of good in a very short time.
Connect through language
Language is a fundamental part of being human. As a newcomer to your community, you could be perfectly placed to help connect others.
Working as a translator for local authorities helps build bridges between different segments of the population. Even simple things like offering to translate notices for your neighbourhood can have a big positive impact and help others access vital services.
Language tuition can also serve as a viable second income. The ability to speak multiple languages comes with all sorts of potential career benefits, and that’s a skill worth paying for. Community centres and even local authorities should be able to help you start running informal language classes.
Or, of course, you could join or set up your local chapter of SPEAK.
SPEAK: Bringing communities together
With luck, we’ve given you some ideas for making a positive, meaningful contribution to your community. Get in touch on social media and share your stories, we can’t wait to hear about your adventures.
In the meantime, it’s time to get started. Search for community projects near you.
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