Volunteering around full time work - how do you fit it all in?

When I list all the volunteering I do, people’s reaction tends to be “How do you fit it in?” It’s easy really. I do things that I really care about so I want to make time and none of them involves a regular commitment at a set time.

I’ve always worked full time and I’ve always volunteered. As a Youth Support Volunteer for the National Deaf Children’s Society I attend residential events for deaf children and young people to provide pastoral care and communication support, translating between English and BSL (British Sign Language). These are at weekends or in the school holidays. I also attend the volunteer steering group three times a year.

I’ve been involved with Greenbelt Festival - an annual festival of arts, faith and justice - for nine years in a variety of voluntary roles including leading teams of volunteers. The festival takes place over the August Bank Holiday weekend and I’m there for a few days beforehand, as well as attending a Team Leader day and doing some prep at home throughout the year. I can do any admin and preparation in my own time so I just fit it in where I can.

I’m also an Independent Visitor Volunteer with The Children’s Society, which involves keeping in contact with a young person in local authority care and meeting them about once a month to do whatever activity they choose. Having moved away I’m continuing that role as a Virtual Independent Visitor, keeping up contact remotely with a couple of face to face visits. Independent Visiting is quite similar to the mentoring projects I’m working on at TimeBank.

These include Starting Together and City Opportunities Mentoring which match care leavers with a mentor who will spend five hours a month with them for six months working towards goals identified by the young person. Mentors receive training and expenses for their travel and refreshments. The Switch matches mentors with young people who are making the difficult change from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to either Adult Mental Health Services or living independent of mental health services as they turn 18.

We are particularly interested in hearing from male volunteers who would like to be matched with a young person on The Switch. We are running training at the end of November so it’s not too late to apply. Please contact Rachel Carder, Project Co-ordinator on 020 3111 0730 or email us at theswitch@timebank.org.uk