Blog

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

Is it really a fair cop guv?

The Metropolitan police is the UK's biggest force and they, like the rest of us are having to think how they can save money. 

The governments spending review will reveal all on October 20th, and the Home Office which is the government department responsible for funding the police has to make cuts.

One of the ideas is that anyone intending to join the police would have to volunteer as a volunteer special constable for 18 months. 

If people intending to become police officers are forced to volunteer as special constables - perhaps its time for all police forces to stop using the word volunteer. 

I know that this is quite a unique role unlike those of most volunteers, as you have a duty to the crown once you wear the uniform. But let's stops bandying the word around, after all volunteering should be independently chosen and freely given and volunteers should complement and not be doing the job of paid staff.

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LGBT Festivities

88 LGBT flag.jpgGFEST- Gaywise Festival is an initiative of Wise Thoughts arts charity and is the UK's only dedicated London based cross-arts fesitval. It celebrates and champions the work of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) artisits. It's taking place from 8 - 12 November at various venues across London and this is your chance to be part of it. 

The festival has three main strands: short film screenings, performances and a visual arts exhibition combined with a range of workshops, talks and debates.

You could volunteer as an art show invigilator, supervising and monitoring access to the gallery space, a canvasser/show usher, engaging with audiences and ensuring they have an enjoyable experience at festival events or as a publicity distibutor to help promote GFEST - Gaywise FESTival 2010 events and activities.

If you'd like to volunteer, submit your details via this online application

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Lone surfing

The number of older people living on their own who use the internet has really grown over the last 10 years.

In 2000, just 11% of single pensioners had internet access at home - now almost 40% are online.

I think it's fantastic. No need to pop out for a pint of milk. Gone are the days of going to your bank to pay a bill. For older people without family or friends nearby they don't have to feel alone anymore. Ok, it's no substitution for human contact but lets face it, it helps.

One of our mentoring projects, Digitall, has been helping all sorts of people (including older people) to get to grips with computers and the internet. Young volunteer Hema supported the young at heart Penny. Penny is now on Facebook. She emails her family over in Canada and has become 'cool grandma' to her grandkids. Brilliant eh? Take a look at our film about them here

So, if you know an older person who lives alone, give them a hand to get surfing so they're not so alone anymore.

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Make a will, make a difference

If you're one of the 60% of adults who haven't made a will - or if you need yours updated - do it in November.

During November, solicitors across the country are giving up their time and using their professional skills to raise money through Will Aid.

103 robweir.com

Solicitors volunteer to write wills for free, and you donate what would have been the fee to charity. Don't wait until November, find a participating solicitor near you and make that appointment now. You'll be supporting volunteers, sorting out your life and raising money for charity.

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itea & biscuits

Did you know that its itea and biscuits week?

Age UK are running taster sessions and events all across the UK encouraging older people take a look at the way digital technologies can transform their lives for the better.  A friend of mine who has adopted London as her new home told me recently that the happiness of her parents who live in New Zealand has increased ten fold since they have learned how to use skype and can see and speak to their grandchildren on a regular basis.

These sessions are not just about encouraging people to get online but they are also informing older people about a huge variety of digital technologies eg mobile phones and digital cameras. Age UK has a huge and varied list of volunteering opportunities why not take a look at what's available in your area.

If you live in London, TimeBank also runs digital inclusion programmes like Digitall and Futures Together so why not take a look and see if they might interest you?

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Urgent volunteering opportunity this Saturday for Londoners

One of the many inspirational young people who are part of our youth programme, Junction49, urgently needs volunteers in Tottenham, London this Saturday to help promote her campaign to support and recognise young fathers.

Whilst working in Asda, Emma noticed the number of young fathers that came in doing all the hard things that young mothers do such as holding their baby in one arm and carrying their shopping in the other. She was touched by this and it made her realise that, despite the negative stereotype of “baby fathers” and “weekend dads”, there are so many young fathers out there doing wonderful things.

So she decided to launch The Daddy Cool Project to offer young fathers recognition and support. The project runs workshop sessions for young fathers to get together and share advice and support. The website is also packed full of supportive materials such as tips, inspirational videos and voxpops from other inspirational Dads.

This Saturday 25th September Emma is hosting a fun day event near Tottenham Hale station in London and needs volunteers to help with registrations, raffle ticket selling, assisiting in the colouring corner for the kiddies and general helping out making sure the day is fun packed for the community.

Please email directly to info@daddycoolproject if you're willing and able to get involved.

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What do Jon Snow and Andrew Flintoff have in common?

96 trustees_week_logo.JPGAnswer: They're both backing the Charity Commission's annual Trustee Week.

Trustee Week is happening between 25-31 October. Here's a few stats from the commission about trustees:

- they estimate that half of all charities have a vacancy on their board 

- there are 800,000 trustees in the UK, and

- only 0.5% of trustees are aged 18-24 (there's a huge need, find out more about being a young trustee from the British Youth Council). 

Trustees play a massive role in running a charity, especially for smaller charities like South London Community Music (SLCM). Its a great way to get your teeth into something you're passionate about. And if the time commitment is putting you off, like SLCM says "once you've learnt the ropes of being a treasurer it'll take a few hours a month at a time that suits you".

Find out a bit more about becoming a trustee here on our website If you fancy finding out more about being a Trustee Treasurer for SLCM, ring 020 8699 0591.

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Christmas already? C'mon be a star...

Older people can be so interesting when you sit down and have a good old natter with them! I met a lovely friend of my Grandma's at the weekend and got chatting to her about the volunteering that she does for Samaritans Purse and their Christmas appeal where she helps fill shoeboxes to send to children in developing countries. She talked so warmly about what she does and it definitely made me want to encourage my friends and family to start gathering some bits to fill a box or two.

It also got me thinking about the need to start thinking about what volunteering I can do this Christmas. Since it's one of the most popular times of the year where people want to volunteer you actually need to start finding roles from the beginning of October.

We're working on our dedicated Christmas website which will be full of ideas on things you can do. It will be with you in a couple of weeks or so watch this space.

But one thing I really need from you, as the resident PR girl, is stories of what you did for Christmas volunteering last year or what you're planning on doing this year. Magazines are already writing their Christmas issues and it would be great to try and get them featuring a Christmas volunteer or two. That way, I can then give them your stories and encourage more people to log on to our website to find their perfect Christmas volunteering.

So don't be shy. Just email me and I'll call you for you to speak loud and proud about your volunteering. Help more people reap the rewards of volunteering.

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