Blog

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

Celebrating Black History in October

There are over 1,500 events being held around the country many of which rely on voluntary efforts for their success. Visit the Black History Month website to look at events you can attend or better yet volunteer at! If you don't find something you want to get involved in on the website do get in touch with the team as there may be other opportunities available that are not advertised.

If you live in London and would like something more specific The Pepper Pot Day Centre in West London is always looking for volunteers to support their work. There are a variety of opportunities from office administration, practical activities, organising trips, care services and catering (meal preparation and food serving) to fund-raising. The Pepper Pot Day Centre provides services for active and disabled older people from the African and Caribbean community- to help them live independently in their own homes.

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Not everyone loves pink

It's not often I get on my soap box but right now I'm tapping away extremely hard on my poor keyboard a little disgruntled.

Why? Last week I read two articles in different newspapers (but by the same person actually) and they're still irritating me. The jist of the articles are that Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) is getting too much publicity over other cancers, that it's scaremongering and, that with all the lovely pink things you can buy it even makes it the 'fun' cancer.

True enough it's massive - everything is pink at the moment. BUT, can a good cause ever have too much publicity? It's a marketing campaign (the 'fun' stuff is there because it appeals to that particular audience). Couldn't other cancer charities club together and have a campaign month? Perhaps that's what the writer is getting at.

In an ideal world every organisation that's fighting its cause would have equal publicity but it often comes down to who shouts the loudest. And you too can shout loud (or just be a crucial part of a cause) by volunteering.

Come on....I had to get volunteering in here somehow didn't I?

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We're in 8th place

The World Giving Index has recently been published by Charities Aid Foundation.

The report highlights that nations give in different ways and that volunteering as a way of giving falls behind both giving money as well as helping a stranger, the two other ways highlighted as “giving”. Incidence of volunteering lies in a range from 2% in Cambodia to 61% in Turkmenistan.

The UK stands in 8th place out of 153 (not bad!) with 73% giving money, 58% helping a stranger and 29% volunteering.

Have a look at the index here. Are you surprised by some of the countries who are in the top ranking positions?

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Countdown

Well, you've got one week before applications close to be a volunteer at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

And you've got one month to put in an application to 'donate yourself' to a local charity through Vodafone's World of Difference programme. If you're one of the lucky 500 chosen, you'll get to spend two months with the charity and get some money to do it too. Placements will start in March 2011.

If you can't wait until then to start volunteering, why not find something now by popping in your postcode in the search box at the top right hand corner of the page.

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Cuts Cuts Cuts...

"Carnage on Axe Wednesday", "The Axe has Fallen". Just two of the dramatically depressing headlines about the spending review announcement this week.

Well here at sunny TimeBank towers I'm trying desperately to put a more cheery note on things. And I think I may have found it.

Volunteering!

We've talked before about the power of mentoring and I truly believe that it could step in and save some of the day - in this case for smaller charities and for teachers too.

  • Leaders Together is our mentoring project where senior professionals lend their skills and expertise to help and support leaders of smaller charities that will find themselves in even greater need as a result of sector cuts. We've recently launched and are still looking for more mentors and leaders that need a mentor - training starts mid-November for mentors and early December for small charity leaders.
  • We're working with the Refugee Council to recruit and match mentors as part of the wider national Refugees into Teaching project which supports refugee teachers to become a teacher in the UK. A huge number of refugees have teaching skills and qualifications from their home country that are difficult to transfer in the UK. Cuts to the education sector will undoubtedly result in this being double as hard. So if you're a qualified teacher or have knowledge of the UK teaching profession, sign up as a mentor to help and support refugees to access the advice, training, work placements and ultimately the teaching career they dream of.
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On a mission

If you've been reading this blog you'll know I'm on a mission this month to get the word out about Breast Cancer Awareness month.

My search for volunteering makes me realise how many great charities are out there fighting the cause. This time I'm bringing you The Genesis Appeal who are the only UK charity entirely dedicated to preventing breast cancer.

So, how can you volunteer? If you're lucky enough to live near Manchester (where their main office is based), you can be the welcoming face on their helpdesk, run their merchandise stall, help to run an event, volunteer in their coffee shop or do a spot of gardening. The list is endless.

If you're a bit busy now but want to plan ahead - how about getting involved with Walk The Walk's Moonwalks next year? You can get involved from everything being a route marshal, to selling walking gear and even giving the walkers a massage or tattoo afterwards.

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Get online

This week is Get Online week - helping people to get to grips with computers and the internet.

A couple of our projects here at TimeBank do just that and Futures Together in particular is looking for volunteer mentors to help get people online.

Futures Together supports older Muslim women with computer and language skills and is looking for young Muslim women aged 18-35 to be mentors. It's a London based project and we'll give you all the training and ongoing support you need. Find out how to become a mentor.

Watch our films to find out more about how we're tackling digital inclusion.

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How is the Big Society going to work in times of cuts?

It's the question on a lot of people's minds, especially with the spending review announcement on Wednesday.

So we went straight to the source and asked the people you'd most expect to be 'being' the Big Society already...volunteers.

Over 1,500 volunteers or people wanting to volunteer responded to our survey when we asked them what they thought of the Big Society and what would get more people volunteering. Here's what they said...

  • 89% like one or more of The Big Society plans
  • But 70% remain confused or cynical
  • 73% want volunteering to be made easier
  • Employers giving staff time off to volunteer is the top thing they think will encourage more volunteering
  • Training community organisers came top of the list of Big Society plans that appealed the most
  • But out of those less than half want to be trained as a community organiser themselves.

Here's what the BBC made of our survey today. And here's the full story

What do you think? Could you, would you be one of Cameron's 5,000 community organisers? If your employer gave you time off to volunteer would that really spur you on to do more volunteering?

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