How Giving Improves Mental Health

Our colleagues at the local Shaw Trust Project, Wellbeing Works (  shared this story with us recently. Meet Anna who describes her volunteering as a  healing activity. To quote: “You are here and now, you just focus on the things that are here.


Anna started volunteering for Shaw Trust during her time as a client at All In Edinburgh and decided to run her own mosaic making workshop.

Always having felt the need to do something to help others, experienced artist and designer Anna was delighted when she found out there were opportunities at Shaw Trust to take part in some volunteering.

“I have always wanted to do something for people. Something I know well that I can show other people and it be something they might enjoy. So, when I found out I could volunteer, I just came with my idea and thought I could try to do this.”

Anna regularly runs a mosaic making workshop for Shaw Trust where clients can come along and develop some new skills, talk to others, de-stress and have some fun. By starting from the basics and teaching clients how to select materials, use various tools and working on interesting designs, Anna helps those who attend her classes to create a wide range of different mosaics.

When Anna started volunteering for Shaw Trust, she was struggling with some problems in her own life, but found that volunteering helped to improve her mental health and general wellbeing.
“At the time I was trying to find a job and my confidence wasn’t good. I was going through a lot of things in my own life.”

“I was stressed about different things but people started coming to the workshops and I could see lots of people coming back and enjoying the classes. It made me so happy.”

Anna also notices positive changes in the clients who attend her classes and believes that doing creative activities like making mosaics, can have a significant impact on our mental health and wellbeing.
“I can see the clients growing and becoming more confident when they achieve something. I had a student who was very shy and unsure but when he started doing the mosaics he became happier and I could see how he had changed.”

“I think this activity is healing. You are here and now, you just focus on the things that are here. If it’s working for me, it can work for others as well.”

Although Anna still struggles with some issues she faces, she feels as though volunteering for Shaw Trust has had a positive impact not only on her life, but the lives of the clients she works with during her classes and now can’t imagine volunteering being absent from her schedule.

“I think I am still struggling with some things but I feel like I am growing and I am on a path of finding myself.’
‘It was a big step to be around people and see how they change and how they feel confident in themselves. It has given me happiness every day.”

Anna continues to run her mosaic workshop for clients at Shaw Trust and has enjoyed her experience so much, she is currently looking for additional volunteering opportunities. “I have actually applied to another charity to do some work with them. It’s a part of me I need to do now.”

Get involved. Volunteer your time with Shaw Trust as a wellbeing volunteer.