We end 2013 on a volunteering high!

How is it Christmas already? 2013 seems to have whizzed away into the ether! Once again the TimeBank team spent yesterday volunteering for our Christmas party, this year gardening and then serving Christmas lunch, playing games and singing carols with older people at the Sundial Centre in Bethnal Green. It’s been some year – and we end it on a real high!

So in true tradition let’s look back on our highlights and look forward to the future - a luxury we have struggled to do for the last few years. January saw new staff coming on board in London and Birmingham, and the launch of our Carers Together project.  By February we’d started our Engage programme, supporting young people in Tower Hamlets who are not in education, employment or training. Then it was time to induct new members of our Board of Trustees – and by April we were trialling a new concept of Data Volunteering.

May brought our incredible employee volunteering day with CEB with 450 people volunteering in one day at nine London locations, which was a fabulous day for all of us.

Do you recall the long hot summer? We do! We launched our Shoulder to Shoulder evaluation report in Westminster right in the middle of Wimbledon – remember that?! A British man wins Wimbledon – are we really still in 2013?

In September I had the pleasure of judging the Third Sector Awards which was an inspiring opportunity to see the kind of things volunteers do day to day – it was hard to pick a winner.  During those sunny months we also developed our Christmas party volunteering package – we just knew that other people would want to do what we had done and volunteer in place of their party or alongside it. We launched it with the help of some brilliant Barclays graduates, themselves volunteering, in early September, and we have been overwhelmed by the response.

That month we also appointed more trustees and in the wider sector ivo.org were announced as the winners of the bid to run Do-it, the national volunteering database – a bid that we were a second tier partner in.

October brought the exciting news from the Department of Communities and Local Government that we had been awarded £1.12m to run a major new volunteering project, Talking Together, offering language teaching to long-term UK residents who have little or no knowledge of English. This will be a huge piece of work but it confirms that we are just as strong, innovative and passionate as we’ve always been, whatever challenges we’ve faced these last few years. It was heartening to receive so many messages of support and excitement from colleagues in the sector and beyond. Meanwhile we have not stood still. In November we were interviewed by the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation to achieve approved provider status for our project The Switch, which works with young people with mental health issues. The news that we had received this status was announced just last week, showing once again the quality of our work. 

In addition we can announce funding from the Lloyds TSB Foundation to pilot a project for families of ex-service men and women with mental health issues in Birmingham. We’ve expanded Engage so we can support more unemployed young people in London.  This week we’ve appointed five new staff in Birmingham to run Talking Together, who will join the TimeBank team in January. And we’ve signed the lease on a new larger office there.

I’m exhausted just remembering it all! But none of it would have happened without you, our phenomenal volunteers, our amazing staff team and trustees and our funders – so this is my chance to say THANK YOU – for being there through good times and bad, for knowing TimeBank does a great job, on time, to target and on budget and that we always put our beneficiaries first.

We simply cannot wait to get started again in 2014. In the meantime we are taking a little break to enjoy the festive season, recharge our batteries and get ready for the next leg of our journey in the volunteering world – so Happy Christmas and have a wonderful New Year.