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

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.

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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."

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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.

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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?!

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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.

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How much time does it take to build a big society?

Laura LeaperLaura Leaper works really long days and still manages to volunteer.

"A lot of people sit at dinner parties and talk about causes they believe in, but I'm doing something about it."

"I'm not saying it's easy - it's still difficult to fit in. But the benefits far outweigh the time I spend and it's an incentive to do it. I never walk away thinking it was a waste of time."

Laura volunteers as a menetor on Back to Life and was happy to talk to the BBC about why she makes the time as part of their feature on finding the time to build a Big Society.

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Two years to the London Olympic & Paralympic Games

LondonAmbassadorsIn order to have a successful Games thousands of volunteers are needed to make it happen.  Today marks the two year countdown and is being used to announce ways of how you can be a part of this once in a lifetime experience.

There are two main volunteering programmes during the Games. Firstly the Mayor of London and his team at City Hall are recruiting “London Ambassadorswho will be on duty as the welcome face of London at key entry points e.g. airports, rail stations and tourist hot-spots like Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden etc to welcome the world to the host city of the Olympic Games.  You can register from today

Secondly the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) is recruiting “Games Makers” who will be volunteering in and around the Olympic venues – there are a huge number of roles, ranging from doctors to dope testers and from sports marshals to press operations and also thousands of general helpers needed to make the Games happen.

If you want more ideas and advice on all sorts of ways to volunteer across the UK why not sign up to the TimeBank newsletter which will inspire you to get out there and volunteer in the build up to the greatest show on earth.

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Can I pick your brains?

cake 1We're putting together a new guide to send out to would be volunteers when they register with us.  I'm looking for people who are willing to spare ten minutes to answer a quick questionnaire about what you think of it and how useful the information is.  

It doesn't matter if you haven't volunteered before or if you've been doing it for years - all comments will be gratefully received!  Just email to let me know you're interested and I'll be in touch shortly.

And I don't want to be accused of bribery but in true TimeBank style I might just give you cake if you do..

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