An informal conversation and guide to the sometimes confusing world of volunteering.

Watch the birdie

We hear lots of talk about global warming, carbon footprints etc etc but did you know that the birds in your very own garden or local park can act as a really good monitor of environmental change?

For over 30 years now the RSPB have been asking people to literally count the birds in their garden. The information collected has revealed some sad results, like the fact that we've lost more than half our house sparrows, and three-quarters of our starlings. 

So why not get outside this weekend for the Big Garden Birdwatch.  All you need is a pen and a piece of paper and one hour of your time spent either in your garden or in a local green space on either Saturday 29 or Sunday 30 January 2011. 

Then you watch the birds and write down the highest number of each bird species that you see.  Dont worry you won't get your wagtails mixed up with your Jackdaws because there is a very handy bird ID sheet on the RSPB website.

You can also ask questions, and share your tips for a brilliant birdwatch on their Big Garden Birdwatch online community group.

If you are a teacher or youth leader you could get the whole class to take part in the Big Schools' Birdwatch which runs between 24 January to 4 February 2011.

Go on register now and get the whole family outside.

Add a comment

Strictly Daffodil

I’m really missing my weekly fix of glitter and sparkle otherwise known as Strictly Come Dancing

So you can imagine my delight when I found out that I can recreate it here in TimeBank Towers by having a Daffodil Dance.

You may have recently read my colleagues blog about the Daffodil Appeal which is a Marie Curie fundraising appeal that has been running for many years now.  Marie Curie provides care for terminally ill cancer patients and funds scientists who are at the forefront of cancer research.  Here is a strictly fun way to get involved and help out this fantastic cause.

Dust off your dancing shoes and sign up for the Daffodil Dance and Marie Curie will send you a pack with choreographed dance routines, fundraising ideas and tips on how to make your event a success. There are five routines to choose from all from top choreographers:

Irish Dancing, Line Dancing, Street Dancing, Salsa and not forgetting Ballroom.

Once you've decided on a style you can get your pals to sponsor you and invite them to a performance of your routine any time in March.

I've registered and I cannot wait - I hope my colleagues will be as excited as I am.

As Brucy says Keeeeeeeeeeeeep Dancing.

Add a comment

Check out volunteer check-ins

If you have a smartphone you may have tried some of the location-based social games that have been gaining in popularity over the past year.

If so you've probably heard of either Foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook Places. These games or applications work by using the phone's built in GPS. You simply use one of these phone apps to search for places nearby to your current position, you find the place you are at and then you "check-in". Your check-in indicates you are at that location and you can add a comment, or tip, or maybe a photo. Your check-in can then be seen by your friends. Some of the services offer virtual badges or pins which rack up each time you check-in to a location.

Why? I hear you cry. Well, for a start it might be useful for hooking up with friends - for instance you check into a local coffee shop and post a message asking if anyone else is in the area and fancies catching up for twenty minutes over coffee.

Businesses are already catching on to this trend and offering discounts or other rewards for those that have the most check-ins at a venue. It's no wonder then that the charity world is starting to think if there could be a non-profit use, a Check-in for good. Much like the continuing developments in the related concept of micro-volunteering it's a space worth watching.

How about adding volunteering tips to a venue? Or volunteering opportunites set up so when you arrive to volunteer you check-in and gain some kind of recognition for doing it.

Do you already use a location based app? Would you use a location based volunteering app? Let me know what you think by taking part in the poll below.

Maybe you have your own exciting idea for how location based games or services could help vounteering?...

Add a comment

TimeBank comes to Hammersmith’s ON FM 101.4

I was excited to make my radio debut with "View from the Top" with Tom Mallow last Sunday.

TimeBank was invited to talk about our projects and volunteering opportunities in Hammersmith. You can listen to the broadcast here. I’m on just after 6:30. Happy listening.

Add a comment

A taste of spring

When I was mulling over what kind of volunteering to do over the cold Christmas holidays, I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the cheerful daffodil on Marie Curie’s logo. An early taste of spring, so I decided to have a closer look…

Marie Curie provide care through nurses and doctors and other health professionals for around 29,000 cancer patients in their homes and communities. They also support the patient’s families. Not wanting to depress anyone, but with 1 in 3 of us developing cancer at some point in our lives, it’s no doubt a hugely important service – and one I really wanted to contribute to.

They’re currently recruiting 20,000 volunteers to help with their Great Daffodil Appeal in March and there are lots of different ways to get involved. You could just wear something yellow to show your support, join in collecting money in your local area, organise a collection, or for those with extra energy (and talent), Dance the Daffodil Dance! - more info on their website. Personally, I was in the mood for getting involved quite a bit, get a better idea of what goes on behind the scenes and learn some new skills while I’m at it. So I decided to apply as a Collection Organiser.

What it means is that I’ll be organising the collectors in my local area in West London, draw up a schedule of who’s collecting when and where on the day, generally making sure that the collectors have what they need, and have a good time – so I’m sure there'll be tea and cake involved and if we're lucky a bit of warm sunshine too! I'm quite excited to get started actually. I haven't volunteered for a couple of years and it feels good to be part of something again. I'll make sure to keep you posted how I get on, and if you want to join in the spring feeling have a look at their website to register as a volunteer yourself.

Add a comment

C'est arrivé!

It's here - 2011 is officially the European Year of Volunteering.

We'll be joining the celebrations to highlight what volunteers do - a whopping 100 million of us across Europe - there will be films, exhibitions, media coverage and flagship projects.

But three-quarters of the European population do not do any volunteering. We want to get more people involved. Much of the detail of the events and activities for the year is yet to be planned, and we may well be coming to you for help to convince others to start volunteering. There will be no one better to explain how great volunteering can be.

But don't wait until the plans are announced - find something now.

Add a comment

Calling all Foodies

I was looking for creative ways to fundraise for one of my favourite charities.

I considered doing a half marathon or even a 5K run but the prospect of training and then actually running wasn’t quite my idea of a good time.

Then I came across Dinner4Good, an easy and fun way to raise money for your favourite charity by having your friends round for dinner.

Dinner with friends…  

Now that sounds much more doable.

Add a comment

Create a Big Bang

The Big Bang Fair 2011, is the UK's biggest single celebration of science and engineering for young people. Happening from 10-12 March in London, it promises to be huge. There will be lots going on - from educational shows like Brainiac Live! to workshops and other activities....who said science wasn't fun!

They need 1,500 volunteers. If you're a science or engineering professional get in touch but you don't have to be to get involved - just passionate about science. There are lots of ways you can volunteer - from welcoming people to the event or being a guide to looking after the competition entrants. You'll get full training and whilst you don't have to live in London, you will need to be able to go the event day(s).

So, get involved and make the Big Bang a big success.

Add a comment