With the start of a new year comes a lot of talk about resolutions, whether it’s something you silently commit to yourself, or something you share with others. Most resolutions consist of things we’d like to change, start doing or stop doing in the new year to come. Promises to lose weight, eat more healthily, get fitter, be kinder or more charitable. The beginning of a new year provides us with the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on our lives. It gives a feeling of a “fresh start” a renewed sense of hope that we can make positive changes, that we can do things differently.

Whenever I stop to think about how my life is going, I try to remember to put it in perspective. While I might not have done as much exercise as I’d like last year, I can focus on my family and about how fortunate we are to be happy, healthy, and how I have a job I enjoy where I am able to make a difference to young people who may not have the same opportunities I had growing up.

I work for Ablaze, a small independent charity, whose aim is to tackle inequality of opportunity for young people in Bristol and the Southwest. With the support of local business volunteers, we run a variety of programs in schools to help young people develop their key skills in reading and maths as well as running career mentoring sessions and employability skills workshops. I project manage the reading and number partner programmes and have been fortunate to work with some amazing volunteers over the last few months who selflessly give up their lunch hour once a week to visit children in local schools, listening to them read or playing math’s games with them to build their number confidence. These programs make such a difference to the children involved and is a great way to improve your own wellbeing and feel like you are contributing to the workforce of the future.

The Bristol ‘State of the City’ report 2022 showed that only 65% of children met their age related expectations in reading, wring and maths at the end of Key Stage 2 last year, down from 75% in 2019. Now, more than ever we need to resolve to support children’s education to give them the best access to opportunities in the future, and by volunteering to support a child’s reading or maths a school you can help make that happen.

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When we make our new years’ resolutions, we needn’t face a choice between improving our own lives and improving the lives of others, because one feeds the other. So, this January, as well as resolving to get fitter, eat better, and be more productive, I’m resolving to use my time to help others more – especially those don’t have the same opportunities in life I did.

Resolutions are for business too

Your resolutions don’t just have to be personal; why not set a resolution for your business and make a change in your workplace? Increasing social value and engagement with the local community can also help wider growth within your company. Could your employees be given time in the working week to make a difference to young people’s lives through volunteering with one of Ablaze’s programmes? Research suggests that giving to others either financially or by gifts in kind actually makes our own lives happier – making ‘giving time’ to charity a great resolution for improving your own life in 2023, too.

Additionally, volunteering not only supports your CRS and Social Value objectives, but more businesses are also recognising it as a way to show employees that they are valued and that their wellbeing is important to your business. When volunteers work directly with a cause they care about, they witness the impact first hand, and there’s a huge ‘feel-good factor’ attached to that. Feedback from some of our reading partner volunteers at TLT LLP and BevanBrittan highlight how the programme is having a wide-reaching positive impact on their work, fulfilment and the children they support.

“I enjoy spending time with the pupils I’m partnered with and seeing their confidence grow. I can see the benefit of spending one on one reading time with them that I don’t think they get elsewhere.”

“It’s a good break from the day, allows some time to discuss something other than work. It is also very rewarding to be able to give quality time to children who might not get that attention if not for the scheme. I’m more revitalised and refreshed when I get back to the office”

If you are interested in finding out how you and your business can make a resolution to help others in 2023, then get in touch, I’d love to hear from you. Also, as this is my first ever linkedin article and I’d love to know what you think 🙂

Originally posted on LinkedIn by Gilly Samuddin