Separate independent research adds to the mounting evidence that volunteering has important health benefits. Preliminary studies indicate that volunteering can have positive outcomes for 85 per cent.of mental health service users who participate. (see 'The health benefits of volunteering').

Separate independent research adds to the mounting evidence that volunteering has important health benefits. Preliminary studies indicate that volunteering can have positive outcomes for 85 per cent.of mental health service users who participate. (see 'The health benefits of volunteering').

One such model is being demonstrated by Capital Volunteering with the backing of CSV and the London Development Centre. Grassroots organisations are giving people with mental illness the skills and confidence to reduce their isolation in the community.

Research from the Institute of Psychiatry at.King's College London monitored people with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in seven London boroughs. It found that volunteering increased skills and knowledge, boosted confidence and improved social skills.

Researchers also asked mental health service users.what they.hope to gain from including volunteering as part of their recovery. Nearly a third aspire to improving their chances in the world of work and it is increasingly clear that the skills gained from volunteering are moving them closer to this aspiration.

Claire Helman is director of Capital Volunteering at.CSV.