Home / News / Hong Kong’s community service week, Serve-a-thon, returns as study finds that volunteering positively impacts mental health and well-being

Hong Kong’s community service week, Serve-a-thon, returns as study finds that volunteering positively impacts mental health and well-being

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Thousands of citizens to volunteer during #ServeathonHK from May 4th to 12th at 150 volunteer activities taking place across the city

Serve-a-thon, Hong Kong’s collective volunteering event is returning from May 4 to 12. Serve-a-thon was launched in 2017 to help people begin volunteering in Hong Kong, where many want to serve but are often unable to get started. Since then Serve-a-thon volunteers have given over 8,000 hours to support more than 30,000 people in need during nine annual days of service. The organisers, HandsOn Hong Kong, are hoping to see even more people participating this year, and are lining up 150 volunteer activities to support over 50 local non-profits.

Each of the 150+ service activities running during Serve-a-thon allow volunteers to engage in direct service in support of causes such as feeding the poor and homeless, supporting children from low-income families, showing care to isolated elderly, empowering people with disabilities, supporting animal welfare and environmental conservation.

“It’s very important for volunteers to support our charity. We are a small team and volunteers provide the extra support we need to ensure all our learners’ individual needs are met,” says Michelle Li, Head of Special Educational Needs at The Nesbitt Centre, a non-profit focused on maximizing the potential of adults with learning disabilities. “We choose to be part of Serve-a-thon so the community knows that we are here and we are taking volunteers—it’s so important for our members to be able to interact with new people.”

Over 50 Hong Kong NGOs are being served through Serve-a-thon’s volunteer activities including Ark Eden, Baptist Oi Kwan Social Services, Clean up Hong Kong Trails, Feeding Hong Kong, Hong Kong Animal Adoption Centre,The Hong Kong Society for the Deaf, Impact HK, Plastic Free Seas and Redress.

Signing up to a volunteer activity is easy—simply register as a volunteer, and then select your preferred activity on the volunteer activity calendar (scroll ahead to May). www.serveathonhk.org.hk

Recent findings from a city-wide study show that 83% of volunteers believe that community service has a positive effect on their mental health and self-esteem. The study was undertaken by Nielsen and HandsOn Hong Kong in November 2018 to examine the impact of volunteering on Hongkongers’ emotional well-being.

“The findings from last year’s research showed us that in Hong Kong where concerns around mental health are on the rise, community service has an important role to play in enhancing individual well-being,” says Sue Toomey, Executive Director of HandsOn Hong Kong. “We also learned that working Hongkongers seem to suffer most, with one-third reporting that stress from long hours has a negative impact on their emotional health. So we see a wonderful opportunity for companies to use service programs to promote wellness among their employees—84% of our respondents expressed that workplace volunteering lifted their spirits and 86% stated that corporate voluntary activity helps to bind teams together.”

“Our hope is that by getting people to that first step through Serve-a-thon, Hong Kong citizens from across business, schools, universities and community organizations will then continue to volunteer and experience the benefits it brings to both the individual and the community.”

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