January is always seen as a time for cutting back and abstaining from things, eliminating a lot of the fun from our lives. While there may be a few highly motivated souls out there who manage to turn away from temptation well into the new year, the majority of us abandon these ‘rules’ somewhere around the middle of January as everyday life gives us a huge reality check.

That’s why we’re asking people to focus on the positives and steer clear of the negatives by trying something new for 2020. We have a number of volunteering roles for those who enjoy being outside and meeting new people. Our Wild About Wakefield project leads regular activities including walking, tandem cycle rides, conservation work, adventure clubs and outings to local historic places and country parks, all of which depend on volunteer involvement.

Wild About Wakefield Project Officer Ella, says: “There are lots of reasons why people volunteer – from a feeling of wanting to give something back to the community to improving skills and confidence. Everyone has different motivations for volunteering but they are overwhelmingly positive.

“At Open Country we’re always on the look out for people who are interested in helping our disabled members get the most out of their experience in the outdoors. Whether it’s guiding a visually impaired person on a walk or pushing a wheelchair user on one of our weekend outings, a sense of purpose is guaranteed along with a feeling that you’re making a difference in your community.

“The whole point of volunteering is that it’s flexible and fits in with people’s busy lives. So if you are only available at certain times or occasionally, that’s absolutely fine. At Open Country we value the diverse skills and expertise volunteers can offer. However, the only prerequisites for getting on board with us are enthusiasm and a willingness to get stuck in.”

Julie volunteers with Wild About Wakefield’s Thursday Walking Group and says: “I get a huge amount from volunteering with Open Country. Not only is it a great way to feel like you’re making a difference and helping people with a disability to enjoy the great outdoors, it’s also a great way of keeping fit, both body and mind, and seeing parts of our beautiful countryside you wouldn’t normally visit – in all weathers! You can always guarantee a warm welcome on one of their activities, as well as bad singing and terrible jokes!”

If your new year’s resolution is to try volunteering, Ella would love to hear from you. Email wakefield@opencountry.org.uk or call 07426 716677. For more information visit www.opencountry.org.uk/wakefield-project

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