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

Away Day

20100615_064Tuesday was TimeBank’s first away day in two years and long overdue. Some may say such things are a luxury. I think they're essential to a creative, inclusive, organisation going through tough times, but who at the same time are excited by the opportunities the future holds.

Over the past 18 months we have refocussed our Vision, Mission and Values, we have established our strategic direction and are on the brink of launching a new website and brand AND we have a new government with a vision for a Big Society which is led by volunteering. What a chance to capture our thoughts on how we might input to shaping the Big Society. When we did our VMV work we were lucky enough to have some pro bono support from innovation agency Happen. Yesterday they once again gave us two of their staff SJ and Becki to facilitate our day – so they were walking the talk – volunteering using their professional skills to help us.

We were at a fantastic venue which I would highly recommend, reasonably priced, and a great space - Body and Soul. It was also a charity so the cost of rental went to a good cause – charities helping one another.

Was it worth it? Without a shadow of a doubt. What Happen do in a seemingly light touch and seamless way is help us to think creatively, give us the space to do so and make sure we get something tangible and meaningful out of it. Watch this space for our thinking on the Big Society, on new projects we want to do and a reinvigorated staff who finished the day with a pint in Islington still talking about changing the world.

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July 3rd - Paint the town ruby red

rainbow flags

40 years have passed since the stonewall riots in Manhatten.  So much has changed and equal rights for all is now a much more accepted idea.  Pride is a world wide movement advocating equal rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people.  On July 3rd its the annual Pride Parade here in London and according to the London Metropolitan Police, Pride London is the best organised London street event.

What makes it such a fantastically organised event is the 300 volunteer stewards that help manage the Parade and the additional 20 volunteer stewards that  support disabled participants and ensure that disability access standards are maintained throughout the day.

Pride London is run entirely by volunteers so why not be a part of one of the most colourful days in London

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blood1The World Cup is on its way.   

Which means on top of all the other stuff in our busy lives, we'll want to fit in a few 90 minute matches as well.  This leaves very little time for us to do something small that will make a huge difference.   

Ever thought it might be worth missing the first five minutes of a match - to make the difference between life and death for someone else?

Did you know that 96% of us rely on only 4% of us to give blood? During the World Cup the blood transfusion service are predicting up to a 20% drop in donations, as yes you guessed it - we'll be busy watching the beautiful game.

So don’t let those predictions come true and find out where you can give blood during this World Cup.

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Let them eat cake

cakeHere at TimeBank we celebrate everything with a nice big slice of cake.  And today we want to celebrate and say thank you to all our volunteers. That's all of 295,000 of you who've registered with us as well as the thousands of others across the country who give  up their time to volunteer.

To mark the end of Volunteers' Week today we're heading to an event at Parliament with some of our volunteers - so that  MPs will be able to say thank you too.

And as for the cake, unfortunately we can't send you all a piece. But why not treat yourself to some today and give yourself a big pat on the back at the same time!

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Volunteers' Week

Volunteer<img class=Laura works in our youth team and also volunteers as an Online Peer Advisor for a website for 16-25 year olds to turn to for impartial support and guidance through life.

A young person writes in anonymously with a personal question and they get a personal response back from a fellow young person, in this case Laura.

Laura says, “It feels really satisfying to know you’ve advised someone who you know might not have been able to talk to someone else about their problem. As the volunteer, you don’t know who you’re talking to so it forces you to answer in an impartial way. So I’ve picked up a different skill of writing. And it’s made me more objective too. It’s made me think about people's problems in a much more logical, objective way. It’s almost helped me be a better friend too because of the need to be more open minded.”

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Volunteers' week

SF logoKim, our resident design and web expert puts the skills she uses in her day job to good use when she volunteers.

Kim volunteers at Step Forward, a charity that provides a free and confidential service to young people aged 11-25, living in and around Tower Hamlets (London).  The young people can advise and support on anything from education and training to sexual health.

Like may volunteers, Kim provides the behind the scenes support, vital for the charity to be able to continue its work with the young people.  Doing everything from designing their website to helping out at fundraising events - she's been doing it for over four years now.

She says, "I've met loads of great people through Step Forward and find it really rewarding being able to see the difference my work has made to the charity."
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Volunteers' week

Heidi, TimeBank's resident PR guru volunteers at  The Connections at St MartinsVW2010_logoonly in central London.  She helps out in their activities room, making sure people can access the computers to find a hostel, apply for a job or simply surf the net for free.

She says,

"It’s really opened my eyes to the reasons why people can become homeless too, which makes me think very differently when I pass a homeless person in the street now. It was hard at the beginning, very emotional but I deal with my emotions better now and enjoy talking to them just like anyone else, or playing a game of scrabble or helping someone be patient and calm when trying to piece a puzzle together."

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Volunteers' Week

me drumsIt's Volunteers' Week.  So we're celebrating volunteers -including TimeBank staff who give up their time to make a difference.

Andy works in our fundraising team and volunteers pretty much every Friday. He leaves work an hour early to volunteer at Kids Company, the children’s charity that supports vulnerable children in London.  

His main role is to help out as an activities leader at the after school art club, supporting the kids with their work as well as crowd control! He’s also a professional musician and plays in a band, so he lends his talent to run a drums and percussion class for 4-11 year olds every few months too. The kids absolutely love him.

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