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

Fancy a challenge?

EmmausA couple of weeks ago I blogged about getting some skills whilst volunteering. So, what about if you've got some great skills but want to use them for a good cause? If you're a qualified professional - why not become a trustee?

I came across this great charity, Emmaus. Emmaus communities support people to move on from homelessness, providing work and a home in a supportive, family environment. Like many charities, trustees play a vital role in keeping the organisation fit for the future. At the moment, Emmaus are looking for a treasurer in Preston - find out more about it here.

TrusteeWorks also helps volunteers to find rewarding trustee roles in a variety of charities and they support you throughout your time as a trustee too. Being a trustee often means you need to commit a fair bit of time but our very own busy mum, Sharon fits it in. If you want a challenge it could be right up your street.

Add a comment

Hopefully some big answers to big problems for the third sector...

Leade<img class=Small charities and community groups across London will be able to get the support that they need during this critical time of funding cuts and added pressures by signing up to our new Leaders Together mentoring project.

The project matches leaders of small charities and community groups with senior leaders from the third, public and private sectors. They can get dedicated one-to-one voluntary support for a minimum of 24 hours over six months. Once we've identified their areas of need we'll match them with a senior professional volunteer who has skills and expertise in that area.

Leaders Together comes at a crucial time for the sector, with part of the government's Big Society plan to encourage charities and other organisations to run public services. It's great for charities to get the recognition they deserve for being an essential part of society but not so great for the sector in terms of added pressures despite the huge funding cuts that they are going through.

There is no doubt that small charities and community groups in particular are going to need extra support. Larger charities are more likely to be able to put coping mechanisms in place but I expect small community groups won't have that luxury.

We've just launched the project and are looking for senior professionals to be mentors and leaders of small charities and community groups to be mentees. Register your interest as a mentor or a mentee  and we'll be in touch with training dates before you meet your perfect match. See industry Bible, Third Sector's take on the project

Add a comment

Life Cycles

London Cylcling scheme©' bikes are still a novelty, but they're finally here.

They're a great addition to London - and a wonderful import from other countries that have had such schemes for years.

I'm hoping that Duet Bikes might be one of the next imports that flourishes here. They're a specially designed 'tandem' with a detachable wheelchair that acts as the front wheel. Someone else sits at the back and pedals. Dr Lin Buetner has shown how older people with dementia in the US, living in nursing homes, can benefit from going for a bike ride in the fresh air. Age and disability don't get in the way, with people aged 103, or needing portable oxygen or feeding tubes all enjoying the ride.

This programme is being adapted with volunteers, staff and family all going for bike rides. If you're interested in getting involved in something similar for disabled people, volunteers are needed by wheels for wellbeing.

Maybe Barclays will think about sponsoring this next?

Add a comment

Open City September 2010

London City Hall

Do you look up as you stroll around and gaze at the amazing architecture that surrounds you in London?  Do you wonder what those buildings look like from the inside? Open House has changed its name to Open City - its a chance to get in and explore buildings that are usually not open to the public completely for free and it takes place over the weekend of 18 & 19 September 2010.

You can be a part of this architectural festival by giving your time for half a day as a guide or a steward.  Or if you would prefer to get involved over a longer period of time why not get in contact with them as they have a variety of programmes such as My City Too and Architecture in Schools.

Add a comment

An answer for easyJet

easyjet©ArpingstoneApparently, there's a problem with staff morale at easyJet - or so says their New Chief Executive, Carolyn McCall.

I think I've got an answer for her.

Give them time off to volunteer!

It might not seem an obvious solution to their problem of staff shortages and cancelled flights, but supporting your staff to volunteer is a sure way to improve staff morale. It also helps improve communication skills, team-building and time management. Oh, and it makes people feel good.

TimeBank is working with T-Mobile to get its staff volunteering. One of their employees, Julia, gets time off work to volunteer and believes it's made a real difference:

"It’s wonderful that you can use your work time to volunteer. And I’m lucky that I can choose from lots of exciting things. First a walk with older people, keeping them company and showing them you care and next it’s going to be working with young people teaching them vital life skills."

Add a comment

The best things in life are free....

Friends c Hot rodI for one agree with that. Of course there are some things that money CAN buy, but friends? Surely not. has recently been set up in the US and yes, it does what it says on the tin. I know I'm really lucky to have wonderful friends that I've met throughout my 33 years, not everyone is so lucky.

I guess there are lots of reasons you'd rent a friend - a busy job or perhaps you just find it difficult meeting new people.

My tip? Yep, you've guessed it.  Try a spot of volunteering - a wonderful way to meet like-minded people and the best way to get started is sign up with us, we'll get you in touch with your local volunteer centre, give you monthly updates of great ways to volunteer and we'll keep in touch to see how you're getting on - just like friends do.

Add a comment

Countdown to Vintage at Goodwood

Vintage-Logo-Latest It's festival fever at the moment, although I'm a bit miffed that I haven't managed to go to even one.

But thanks to the perks of the job I'm off to Vintage at Goodwood in nearly two weeks time and I'm so excited! We've, or should I say our very talented events manager Pigalle, has secured the opportunity for TimeBank to be part of the first ever festival celebrating the best in British cool.

Vintage at Goodwood, launched by long term supporter of TimeBank Wayne Hemingway, is all about celebrating the amazing fashion and music from five of our most creative and cultural decades, the 50s, 60s 70's and 80s. We thought we'd add a bit of sparkle to the event, (not that it hasn't got it already of course) by injecting a bit of volunteering as only we know best.

Social values changed drastically throughout the decades too,  from 1960’s activistism to 1980’s feminism. At the festival we'll be tapping into people's current social values by capturing their pledges and needs. There's about ten of us volunteering from TimeBank and we will be capturing peoples pledges and our friends at thinkpublic will also be joining us.

We're dessing up in clothes from the various different eras which will be fun.  I'm dressing in 80's gear and Pigalle's already told me that Rokit Vintage who are supplying the clothes for free are really excited about going crazy with a real trashy style! What have I let myself in for?!

Add a comment

One in 100

Numbers c pink sherbert photographyThat's the number of people in Britain that have autism. Autism is a developmental disability affecting how someone communicates and relates to other people. 

The National Autistic Society have reported that  71% of children with autism have mental health problems - they're often more susceptible because they find it hard to understand the world around them and explain how they're feeling.

So, how can you get involved? I found this quote on the National Autistic Society website from a volunteer befriender 

"Maureen befriends Robbie. Sometimes they stay in the house with Robbie's little brother, watching videos or talking and playing. Robbie loves washing machines so sometimes they'll make pictures of washing machines, or sometimes they go out to electrical shops to look at washing machines!"

Did it make you smile? I certainly did - so much so that I told Julia (another blogger) about it. But more than that I think it shows how it's the simple things that can make a difference to someone's life. Pretty amazing.

Add a comment