A TV star best known for appearing in The Only Way is Essex has shown her support for a campaign to get more young people volunteering by visiting a hospital in Sussex.
Ferne McCann, a TV presenter who has also starred in First Time Mum, met with young people who volunteer at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
They give their time to help run the network of Royal Voluntary Service shops, cafes and trolley services throughout the hospital - with many of them fitting volunteering around school or college.
Ferne said: “It was really encouraging to see young people so willing to give up their time to help others.
“I was so inspired by their positive attitude and they all talked so highly of their experience helping others.
“I think that volunteering is often seen as something we only do when we retire, but actually, any time you can give can make a huge difference to someone’s life and the benefits on you health and wellbeing are just incredible at any age.”
Her visit coincided with a major recruitment drive from Royal Voluntary Service to get more people to volunteer.
The charity said it can have a positive impact on wellbeing, with research showing that volunteering just once a week matches the feeling of ‘runner’s high’ – the feeling of euphoria from exercising.
Ferne also spent a morning with Royal Voluntary Service volunteers at Chesham House in South Street, Lancing, which runs daily activities for older people.
She helped serve up tea and cake in the vintage tea room, dished out a roast dinner to lunch club members and even took part in a Tai Chi exercise class.
Ferne said: “The volunteers I met at the social centre were just amazing.
“Not only are they helping to run the brilliant social centre, they are getting so much out of it too."
Rebecca Kennelly, director of volunteering for Royal Voluntary Service, said: “In the past the benefits of volunteering have been disproportionately enjoyed by those of higher socioeconomic groups.
"We want to see a cultural shift and for people of all ages and backgrounds to be able to integrate volunteering into their everyday life and benefit from the experience.
“There is something to suit everyone, whether it’s providing an older person with company at home, running an exercise class for patients on a hospital ward or putting culinary skills to use at a lunch club, our volunteers make a tangible difference to so many people, with millions of acts of kindness.
“The sense of purpose and joy that can be derived from volunteering and supporting others is incomparable and stays with our volunteers for life.”
Find out more at royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk