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

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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It ain't what you say - it's the people who make it

As part of our tenth anniversary we are hosting a chaired panel debate to find out how the Government, Private and Third Sector organisations are planning to deliver the Big Society.

The keynote speech from Nick Hurd will be followed by a panel debate featuring:

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.

The panel will be chaired by Polly Toynbee, Guardian columnist. Expect a lively and informative debate to ensue.

You can follow the debate live today from 4.30pm via the #timebank10 hashtag on Twitter.

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Whats in your tucker bag tonight?

Every night all the celebrities kept saying 'Im so hungry' on I’m a celebrity get me out of here but this isn’t just something that’s said in a land far away by some celebs or indeed by people across the developing world.  This is something that is happening right here.

13 million people live below the poverty line in the UK.

Every day here on our own doorsteps people are going hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill.

Local Foodbanks provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK and this year UK foodbanks are likely to feed up to 60,000 people nationwide, compared to 41,000 last year – that’s a heck of an increase!

So do you think you want to volunteer at your local foodbank?

Alternatively there are currently no foodbanks in the North East of England and only one in Scotland – so maybe you might want to help to set one up?

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International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December

I know too many of my blogs are about specific 'days', but this one’s really important.

When I was a volunteer in Sierra Leone with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) I took part in a colourful parade on IVD to recognise and celebrate the contribution of volunteering to volunteers themselves and particularly to the community. I had never been more proud of being a volunteer.

Although another parade would be great, I want to take a minute to thank all the wonderful volunteers that take time out to do something for someone else all year round often without any recognition at all. I especially want to mention all the volunteers that have taken part in TimeBank's projects that we have got to know and worked with over the years, without them our projects would not be the sucesses that they are.

So go on... take a moment to celebrate and be proud of being a volunteer.

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