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

5 million ways to help

© RAFHaltonBattleBack www.lta.orgEven if you don't have £5 million to spare, you can still make a big difference to the lives of service men and women returning from conflict overseas.

There are lots of charities offering support to veterans and their families. 

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) has 90 branches across the country and is currently looking for volunteers to help with case work, fundraising, publicity, admin and IT

And the Royal British Legion needs volunteers for their Poppy Appeal across the country as well as for specific roles in London. They also need volunteer case workers to give emotional and practical advice to those in need of support.

Add a comment

Daddy cool

dadddycoolYoung mums have been getting a fair amount of publicity and since I'm all for equal opportunities - here's one for the boys.

The Daddy Cool project needs young London dads.

The Project aims to reach out to young fathers, including those at risk of offending, living and working within the London suburbs and give them guidance and recognition for their good fatherhood.

The young people involved in the project want to strengthen the level of respect good young fathers get and and boost their recognition. Dads will get to meet and learn from each other and celebrate fatherhood.

If you're not a young dad, the project still needs your support. They're quite specific about who they want (no youth workers, no authorities just real people with real experiences).

They're also clear about the skills they're after (advice, support & training, befriending, buddying & mentoring, marketing, PR & media, two hands & commitment). And as their website says - you don't have to be a father to support fatherhood.

Add a comment

A dog (or cats) life

IndieA dog is a man's best friend (so they say). I read recently that a great way to unwind after a stressful day is to be with your dog. I reckon that could be said for all of our four legged friends. I've never really been a fan of cats but I have to say, I've come to be very fond of my housemate's cat (there he is on the right). He really does cheer me up if I've had a bad day.

If your very own Dodger or Whiskers warms your heart - why not volunteer yours (and their) time? Pets As Therapy arranges for volunteers and their well behaved fluffy friends to give therapeutic visits to people in hospitals, hospices, special needs schools - all sorts of places.

And according to Pets As Therapy, the visits with your pet can make someone who's isolated feel less lonely, help speed recovery of someone who's sick or simply, put a smile on someone's face.  Find out more , lead at the ready.

Add a comment

Spreading the Good(wood) Word

Dress UpSo, with tomorrow as the big day at the Vintage at Goodwood festival, are we and our friends at thinkpublic all set? I can safely say YES WE ARE!

  • Mini bus booked and pick up points all organised? Check
  • Meal tickets booked? Check
  • Camera man booked and briefed? Check
  • Blackberry all set for tweeting our celeb spottings and latest public pledges? Check
  • Dress rehearsal and decisions on outfits thanks to donations by Rokit Vintage? Check (you can see from the pic!)
  • Hair and make up? Nearly - Fran bringing crazy 80s' colour palates tomorrow
  • Wellies, brolly and waterproof? Check
  • Hair plaited ready for the reveal of a big crimped 80s' hairdo. Not yet, but will be tonight!

So we're pretty much all ready. Keep up to date with our latest photos and tweets through our facebook page. And watch the final footage of the festival goers pledges and needs including those from the fabulous Eighties' icons, Princess Julia and Danny Rampling. I just hope we get to have fun at the roller disco even though we'll be crazy busy capturing people's pledges on camera and then getting it edited before the screening at 6:30! I'm saying "pretty please" to our organiser Pigalle...

Add a comment

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