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

South Korea in South London

A few weeks ago we had a visit from a group of students from a think tank called The Hope Institute all the way from Seoul, South Korea. Think tanks in South Korea are predominately run by the government or private companies. 

Korean vi<img class=The Hope Institute is an independent civilian think tank that is free of government and corporate influence, providing a practical alternative for Korean society. One of the projects the students are working on is to link professional retirees with third sector organisations who could benefit from their expertise, much like our Leaders Together project which is a London-based mentoring project  linking  small charities and community groups with senior professionals from the public, private or charity sector.

Traditionally, non-govermental organisations (NGOs) and voluntary groups in South Korea were limited to organising political protests against  authoritarian regimes and providing social services for disadvantaged groups of people. As the political system shifted from an authoritarian state to a democratic state in the late 1980s,  NGOs became important in securing the democratic system and promoting political and voluntary participation.  However, compared to  Europe and the USA  participation in volunteering activities is relatively low.

The Hope Institute are driving forward volunteering hoping to transform society. It was fantastic to meet this group of vibrant young students, we were all extrememly impressed by how motivated and engaged they were. Hopefully we passed on some helpful tips to them and I wish their project every success.  And I’m loving the gold lucky pigs they left us all!

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Festival Goers Spread the Good(Wood) Word

From starting an allotment to restoring the local cinema, lots of festival goers at the recent Vintage at Goodwood festival pledged to get more involved in their communities.

Restore our cinemaCommunity gardenCockrellsAllotment

It was our job, along with our friends at thinkpublic, to get the public excited about volunteering and helping their local communities.

So in true true TimeBank style, a group of us donned some fabulous outfits, kindly lent to us for the day for free by Rokit Vintage, and volunteered ourselves to photograph and film people pledging to make a difference.

Group Shot

With the government's Big Society plans to get more people volunteering in their communities, I think this proves that people are definitely ready and willing, don't you?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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

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