“Life Enhancing”….. “Empowering”… “One of the best decisions of my life”
These are just some of the responses given by Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA) volunteers when asked what effects volunteering at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! has had on their lives as part of a national survey, led by Chester Zoo and including volunteers from some of the UK’s top zoos. Over 60 of our volunteers contributed to the report, which looked at the unique benefits gained by volunteering in zoos.
Volunteers are an integral and valued part of the ZSEA team. “We have seen at first-hand volunteers thrive as part of our dedicated team of staff and volunteers” said Claire Ingram, Volunteer Co-ordinator “but seeing in their own words just what volunteering can bring to people’s lives has been a moving experience”.
As well as encouraging and re-igniting a passion for animals and the natural world the survey showed that volunteering at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! has many other positive benefits. Nearly 60% of respondents stated that they had seen an increase in their physical and mental wellbeing as a result of volunteering and almost three quarters said that their self-confidence had increased. The answers showed that volunteering has helped people cope with bereavement, work-related stress, social isolation and low self-esteem amongst other life challenges.
We are proud to be able to welcome volunteers into ZSEA and as an organisation gain as much from having our volunteers as they do from being with us. This research supports what we have always known, zoos are unique places that not just enhance knowledge and conservation but also change peoples’ lives.