Study finds charities hold the key to lasting beyond January
Ever wondered why other people can keep their new year’s resolution but you can’t? Well we might just have the answer.
A recent YouGov survey of over 2,000 people found that a quarter of people said they are more likely to manage to keep theirs – whether it be cutting down on the booze, losing weight, or saving money – if they involved a charity in their efforts.
Researchers, commissioned by BT to promote its MyDonate website, found people stuck to their task if they had the incentive of fundraising for a charity and/or they had the support of a charity to reach their goal.
Suzy Christopher, charity and community director at the telecoms giant, said: “With nearly three quarters of us having donated to charity over the past year, it’s clear that we’re a generous nation.
"As 54% of us will make exercising more our priority in 2017, tying this into a charitable new year challenge could be the perfect way to combine fitness and fundraising – from embarking on a sponsored bike ride to scaling a mountain summit. I’m running the London Marathon in April and fundraising for charity has certainly motivated me to keep training!”
To make it easier for you to keep your resoultion in 2017 we have picked out some of the nation’s most popular resolutions that you might be attempting and explained how you can get support from, or how you can support a charity in your bid to keep it beyond January.
Feel free to let us know what your resolution is in the comments below and how you hope to achieve it.
How to get fitter
Do you struggle to stick with a training plan and find lying on the couch watching Eastenders more appealing than jogging round a local park on a cold January evening? Then what you need is some motivation in the form of an event to plan for and a good cause to be raising money for. There are a plethora of great fitness events happening all over the country, throughout the year and for all levels of fitness. Having something to aim for will make it much easier to stick to even if you are just driven on by fear over your impending event. For those up for one of the biggest challenges of all the Edinburgh Marathon Festival takes place this year on 27 and 28 May. The official charity is Macmillan although if you contact your favourite charity they may have designated places for you to run for them. If you don’t think a marathon is realistic there are options to run it as part of a relay, or run a shorter distance. What are you waiting for – lace up your runners!
Macmillan fundraising manager Pauline Macmillan says: “If you run the Edinburgh Marathon for Macmillan, every step you take will be making a difference to people affected by cancer.
“In addition, you will get lots of support before and after the race, as well as being cheered along the route by our famous race-side cheer-points.”
How to eat better and lose weight
Sticking with getting fitter. If you are still eating chocolate from Christmas then you need to stop - a moment on the lips is a lifetime on the hips as they say. Seriously though, losing weight can be difficult but it is worth it. Getting rid of a few excess pounds can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke to name just a few of the benefits. One charity which produces excellent resources to help you eat better is the British Heart Foundation. It promotes a healthy balanced diet rather than going on a faddy crash diet. As well as its regular website which teaches the fact from fiction when it comes to dieting, explains the truth about fats and food labeling and how to eat healthily on a budget it also produces a magazine called Heart Matters (pictured). Available online, it has some top tips, medical advice and even a fun quiz for you to diagnose what type of physical activity suits you. If eating better and/or losing weight is your goal for 2017 then we think the BHF will definitely be able to help you.
Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, says: “Eating a healthy, balanced diet will be top of the list for many of us when setting New Year’s resolutions with the aim of improving heart health. Our free Heart Matters Magazine is packed full of recipe ideas and great advice on cutting your risk of heart disease.”
How to stop drinking
How many of us while going through the hangover from hell after having one or two too many on a night out have uttered the immortal words “I’m never drinking again”? This January thousands of drinkers are going teetotal for the entire month for the good of their health and for good causes.
Dry January is an initiative started five years ago by the alcohol charity Alcohol Concern. For the first month of the year participants vow to give up drinking and instead of paying their hard earned cash to the local boozer or off-licence they donate it to charity instead. This year it is even easier to do as Alcohol Concern has signed up with the Virgin Money Giving online donations platform allowing you to select to give to any charity registered in its database as well as 50% of the amount you raise going to Alcohol Concern. You can even get friends and family to sponsor you.
To sign up and to get loads of great inspiration, alcohol replacement ideas and a calculator which tells you how much money you would save and how much calories you have avoided visit the Alcohol Concern website.
And don’t worry if you have missed the start, you can always add a few extra days in February.
Cara Barrett of Alcohol Concern says: “Having the break from alcohol during Dry January allows us all to think about what we’re drinking, break those bad habits and in the long term cut down and improve our health.
“By signing up with Alcohol Concern, receiving the support and information throughout the month means it’s more likely you’ll complete the month booze free, and cut down your drinking longer term.
“Even people who have slipped up once or twice throughout the month were consuming less alcohol six months after the campaign.”
How to quit smoking
The best resolutions are the ones that could save your life and stopping smoking really could do that. Half of all long-term smokers die early from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis but it’s never to late to quit with someone stopping by the time they are 60 adding three years on to their life. If health benefits aren’t the thing to make you go smoke free think of the money you will save. Someone who puffs on 20 fags a day paying £7.50 a packet will save over £2,700 a year.
We’re not aware of an smoking equivalent charity campaign to Dry January but there is nothing to stop you donating some of that saved cash to your favourite cause that otherwise would have gone up in smoke. There are also a number of charities and not-for-profit organisations which offer advice on stopping smoking and helping others to stop. Take a look at the ASH Scotland website or Smokeline Scotland to get you started.
How to save money
Living in Scotland it’s hard to save for a rainy day considering it rains at some point most weeks. By the time you get a bit of loose change in your piggy bank you end up spending it because the heavens have opened. So instead of saving just for a rainy day why not also save for the possibility of a financial and emotional return on your cash by joining a credit union.
A credit union is a not for profit financial organisation set up by members who have something in common – such as where they live or work – and anyone can join. There are over 100 credit unions in Scotland and almost 400,000 people have put in savings of £466 million. Members can invest their savings and take it out just like they would at a commercial bank but where a credit union differs is that savings put in to the union can be taken out as loans by fellow members who may have an unexpected bill or need tidied over till they get their wages but don’t want to risk taking out a pay-day loan at excruciatingly high interest rates. Knowing you could be helping someone else like this might just make you keep up your regular payments and avoiding splashing it all on a new raincoat! As with any financial process you should always do your homework first before signing up.
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations runs its own credit union for trustees and employees of member charities. To find out more visit its website.
Stan Pearson of Crossreach Community Care, who is a member of the SCVO Credit Union says: “The good thing about SCVO Credit Union is the payroll deduction services once the first payment comes off you tend to forget about it. Before you know it, you’ve got savings you wouldn’t normally have had and have the chance to apply for low cost loan.”
How to see more of the world
Okay so if you have managed to stop smoking, cut down on your alcohol, lost some weight, ran a marathon and saved some cash. Maybe you should dip into those credit union savings to pay for a holiday as a wee treat. It might seem unlikely that someone will need advice to keep a resolution such as going on holiday but for some getting a holiday can be hard. Holidays can be expensive and they can be lonely if you don’t have anybody to go with. But they don’t have to be. Especially if you try voluntourism.
Voluntourism is essentially going on a holiday where you carry out some sort of volunteering work while away. They are a great way to meet new people, can be cheaper than a traditional holiday and all the time they allow you to bask in the joy of knowing you’ve made a difference while enjoying yourself. The industry is booming and some of the best opportunities in Scotland and further afield are provided by charities. Visit thirdforcenews.org.uk/lists/volunteering-experiences to find a feature we recently published with a number of options for all budgets and tastes from the likes of the National Trust for Scotland, Crossing Countries and Trees For Life. Perhaps knowing your holiday can be a selfless act might just help you keep your resolution to see more of the world.
Jim Whyteside of the National Trust for Scotland says: “A working holiday is not a contradiction but the most fun you’ll ever have in fulfilling personal resolutions while saving Scotland’s heritage at the same time. As a participant at Pabbay said last year, ‘NTS Thistle and Trailblazer camps are brilliantly organised, inspiring and enthralling, massively enjoyable, high achieving and life-memorable.’ “
“If you only have a weekend to spare, as a conservation volunteer, you can still make a difference – and how else could you get into the glorious Scottish countryside with transport included and without the expense of paying for accommodation?”