A WINCHESTER charity is encouraging everyone to take up volunteering as part of their New Year’s resolution in an effort to combat unemployment.

Winchester Area Community Action (WACA) aims to sign on as many volunteers as possible.

It is the culmination of a three-year project funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Winchester centre manager, David Bradshaw, hopes to bring in volunteers in an effort to tackle such issues as long-term unemployment, particularly among hard-to-reach groups.

“Volunteering has been shown to improve your health and your chances of getting into paid work,” he said. “So rather than take out a gym membership why not start volunteering as a way to improve your sense of well-being and at the same time help someone else, the local community? It can also help you get a job if that is your aim.”

A report produced by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University has found volunteering can help towards getting a job more favourably when compared to a national work programme.

The survey, entitled the Final Evaluation of the Volunteering for Stronger Communities programme, shows one in five participants said they had found paid work since volunteering in a local project and improvements were noted with participants’ confidence and self-esteem.