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

Creative Volunteering

You will have read my recent blog about our youth project Junction49 where we were recently celebrating some successes. Through this I came across an organisation called Pan Intercultural Arts (PIA) where we support young people to volunteer using the Junction49 model.

I was really interested in their innovative work, using the arts to promote cultural diversity and inspire social change; something I believe is a great way to address a very complex issue.

PIA are looking for a volunteer to help out in their London office with Marketing and Admin for January and February to get the word out about their youth leadership and integration project, Synergy. If you're interested get in touch with Laura at the PIA.

If you'd like to voluntee in the arts, music and drama world, have a look at our website which will give you some ideas.

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Could you be a Giver on World Book Night?

I must admit the first time I heard of World Book Day was when my son came home from school and told me that in order to celebrate this great event, the whole school would be dressing up as a favourite character from a book.  This has now become an annual ritual in our house and so I was delighted to hear that now I can also get involved.

Saturday 5 March 2011 will be World Book Night  Two days after World Book Day and on that night one million books will be given away by an army of 20,000 passionate volunteers to members of the public across the UK and Ireland.

25 titles have been chosen and each volunteer will have 48 copies of one of these books to give out to whoever they choose. 

If they don’t manage to hand them all out on the night, the remainder will be distributed by World Book Night itself in places that might otherwise be difficult to reach, such as prisons and hospitals.

I’ve signed up to hand out books on international book day – do you fancy joining me?

You have to apply before 0900 UK time on Monday, 24 January get clicking and spread the word.

Don't forget to start planning your volunteering for 2011 which is European Year of Volunteering.

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Another Olympic race

But there's another sprint to get 1.8 million people using the internet by the end of the Olympic year.

There are still too many people in the UK missing out on what the internet offers - information, advice, jobs, contact with friends.

  • 9 million adults in the UK have never used the internet
  • 4 million of these are the most socially disadvantaged
  • 6 million of these are 65 years old or over

TimeBank is one of the 900 partners so far that have signed up to help get this group to the finishing line. We're busy supporting volunteers to help older people, unemployed people and Muslim women get to grips with technology.

So, if you're a charity, a library, school, leisure centre or a local authority Race Online 2012 is looking for new partners - sign up now.

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The goose is getting fat

It's only eight days until Christmas. Are you still looking for volunteering?

We'd suggest you start looking around early- that sounds a bit ridiculous but it's such a popular time to volunteer, you need to get in there quick. If you just haven't had a chance to get around to it, but you're still keen to get away from the turkey and port and do something a bit different, here are our top tips:

- Search our website - if you type Christmas into the keyword, it should come up with something locally

- Get in touch with your local volunteer centre - if you haven't already, sign up with us and we'll match you to your local volunteer centre

- Contact your local community centre - they're bound to need your help over Christmas

Hopefully, you'll get to do something but if you don't - start looking now for the New Year. Volunteering isn't just for Christmas - get some ideas here.

Happy volunteering!

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Volunteering over Christmas

If you’re anything like me as the weather turns colder you will find it harder to get out of bed in the mornings.

On my way to work the other day, thinking about my warm bed, I walked past someone who was sleeping rough. It was an icy cold morning and had snowed the day before. I felt so guilty. Not so much because I'd woken up in a warm bed but that I had become complacent, something that happens when you live in a city like London.

3600 people slept rough last year in London alone. I decided that I wanted to do something.

I have since applied to volunteer with Crisis over the Christmas season, the national charity for single homeless people. They provide vital companionship, hot meals and warmth, and a wide range of essential services that homeless people often miss out on.  

If you want to do something for homeless people at this time of year check out our website where you can get some ideas.

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Ain't what you's the people who make it

Last Tuesday was the final in our series of events to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

We had a big debate, with some big names to talk Big Society.Take a look at who was there and what was said

How do you feel about the plans you've heard for the Big Society? Don't forget to have your say and vote.

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Online shopping closed?

Most people want to avoid that christmas shopping frenzy. That's why so many of us (24 million in fact) turn to the internet to shop online.

But online shopping remains closed for some. Many websites are not accessible and continue to exclude disabled people. Here's where you come in.

Citizens Online believes that disabled people should not be expected to fight their corner alone. They're recruiting a huge taskforce of tech volunteers to champion the cause and report problems back to web owners. They want 10,000 volunteers dealing with 250,000 websites within two years. Find out more about being a volunteer with Fix the Web.

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Ain't what you's the people who make it

On Tuesday we hosted the final in our series of Ain't What You Say events to celebrate our tenth anniversary and I think we went out with a big bang!

We held a debate to find out how the government, third sector and private sector organisations are planning to deliver the Big Society.

The panel featured:

Nick Hurd MP - Minister for Civil Society, Cabinet Office

Paul Twivy - Co-founder, Big Society Network and CEO of Your Square Mile

Robin O'Kelly - Director of Corporate Communications, Everything Everywhere

and our very own CEO Helen Walker.

It was chaired by Polly Toynbee from The Guardian who, as someone who'd been a mentor on our Time Together project, spoke highly of TimeBank, which was so nice to hear. (As the resident PR and media girl I must say I was quite star struck by her!)

We're just updating our event page which will include a slideshow of the event, featuring Nick Hurd MP's speech, a film clip, a picture gallery and you'll also get to vote on some of the Big Society questions yourself. So watch this space.

But if you really can't wait to see what we got up to, I've selected some of my favourite pictures below. You can also search via our hashtag #timebank10 to see all our event tweets.

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