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

Remember the person

Alzheimers_logo_col'But the most important thing is to look me in the eye.' 


John who has dementia and that's one of his words of wisdom to anyone wanting to help a family or friend with dementia.

Dementia is progressive. The symptoms get worse over time. There is no cure - yet. It can be quite terrifying. But people with dementia are still people.

That's the message from last week's Dementia Awareness Week.

Volunteering is a great way to help people with dementia. Roles range from running support groups, being a Dementia Adviser to befriending and administration. There are lcoal groups across the country. You can apply to volunteer with the Alzheimer's Society online.

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Have you got what it takes to be a Games Maker?

inside_PGlogo_greenOk, so hopefully things are now a little bit clearer on how you can volunteer at the London 2012 Games after Sebastian Coe and Alesha Dixon announced the recruitment plans today at The Olympic Park.

They need 70,000 people to volunteer. Somehow, I don't think that's going to be a struggle since we helped 100,000 people register their interest back in 2004. But you can't apply just yet. We've talked through details of key dates and the types of roles you can do on our website. You can register your interest now though and receive email updates of when you can apply. Remember you don't have to wait until 2012 to volunteer. Why not start now?

  • Sign up to TimeBank (if you haven't done so already) for ideas and advice on all sorts of ways to volunteer across the UK
  • Pledge your support for the 25th hour campaign and you’ll be told how you can find and sign up for opportunities where you live and work. Some 25th Hour time-givers will even be rewarded with money-can’t buy experiences like a sneak preview of London 2012
  • Join Changing Places for the day and help fellow volunteers transform an area of East London. They need people to lend a hand transforming the areas around the Olympic Park.

Don't miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity!

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More cake...

Cawan cake c Nono FaraYou may have gathered by now, we like (a lot of) cake at TimeBank. We had cake yesterday for my birthday, which is a good reason to work on your birthday. And I expect we'll have more later today.

This time it won't be a celebratory wedge of cake but a piece to say farewell. It's Rich, our IT System Administrator's (chief hacker) last day. He looks after your volunteer data,  keeps our websites and databases running,  makes sure the technical bit for registrations work, not to mention all the other technical bits and pieces he does - that I'll never understand.

He's off to start a new life in New Zealand. Of course, we all wish him the best but he'll be missed too and not only for his coffee making skills (I've made sure he's passed on his knowledge to me). Rich has been at TimeBank for about seven years - long enough to see many, many changes in its 10 years.

So, although it's our 10th birthday and we'll be celebrating and looking forward to exciting changes, it's the end of an era for Rich. Good luck and may you carry the volunteering torch on to New Zealand.

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Retro: Volunteering gets you high

This year marks 10 years since TimeBank launched. To celebrate this monumentous milestone I shall do a series of fun posts, but with serious bits, looking back at our online and media work over the years.

How best to start?

With a bang, of course...


This (originally flash) animation was part of a series we produced in 2003 which also included 'Volunteering gets you fit' and 'Volunteering makes you sexy'.

And does volunteering get you high? According to Allan Luks, author of The Healing Power of Doing Good, it does.  He surveyed over 3,000 people involved in volunteering and noted a phenomenon he called "helper's high" which contributes to ones overall sense of wellbeing and happiness.

How has volunteering got you high?

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cybermentorsHave you ever been bullied? Do you think you could help someone else who is being bullied? Beatbullying is a great organisation that is giving young people the opportunity to help and support each other online by becoming a CyberMentor whether the bullying is taking place online or offline.

CyberMentors are young people who have been trained and are volunteering their time online.  If you want to get involved or find out more about CyberMentors, including how to get involved, simply send a message to zoe@beatbullying or you can fill out a short CyberMentors application form

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Siblings Together

Siblings Together logoMost of the time I'm frantically typing away at my computer so it's nice to take a phone call and have a chat sometimes (and I do like a good chat). So, in a recent conversation I found out about the amazing work of Siblings Together.

The organisation is dedicated to bringing together siblings separated by having to go into care. It can be a traumatic experience which often has an impact on them long-term.  So, Siblings Together run holiday camps to bring the children together.

Camps are happening in August and they've pretty much got all the volunteers they need. So, you're wondering why I'm letting you know about this right? Well, they want to expand so they can offer more children across the country the opportunity to go on these camps - but the only way they can do this is with support from volunteers.

So, I'm suggesting you get in touch with them now and put your name down for next year (you may not have to wait until August either). They're also setting up a mentoring project to give ongoing support to the children after the camps, so that's another way you can get involved. And, if you want to put your fundraising skills to good use, they need help with this too. Choices, choices.

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Prevention is better than cure

As Joe or Josephine public can we actually do anything about crime levels or have any influence at all? We can help in one way by being a volunteer on a youth offending panel.

It makes no difference where you come from or what you do, as long you are over 18 years old and able to give three hours per fortnight to sit on the panel and be fully trained. Each panel has two volunteers recruited from the local community that sit alongside professional members of the local youth offending team.  As part of the panel you will discuss the reasons for the offending behaviour with the young person and ensure that they are given positive help to prevent further offending and agree a tailor-made contract aimed at putting things right.

This is quite a challenging volunteer opportunity but lets be honest whoever said volunteering was easy.

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I helped paint the town pink

Midnight WalkMidnight WalkI've never been one for running and have always looked on those that do fundraising runs with real admiration. So I did the next best thing and signed up to the Midnight Walk which was part of fundraising for my local hospice back home where my parents live.

I absolutely loved it. It was a fantastic chance to spend time with my Mum and it really spurred conversation too. We talked non stop for the two hours that it took us to complete the walk. The atmosphere was brilliant too. Everyone had made the effort to wear some sort of pink - whether it was flashing pink bunny ears or neon pink sweat bands and tu tu's, it was quite a sight, especially when you looked behind you and just saw a sea of pink! It felt wonderful to know that everyone there was walking for a friend or family member who had been supported by the local hospice and were incredibly grateful for the amazing work they do for local people who are terminally ill.

What's more, just from our registration fee, everyone who took part raised £98,000 - that figure will be lots more once people donate their sponsorship money.

But if you're not so much of a gym bunny (!) you could always support your local hospice through volunteering instead. You can get involved in things such as meeting and greeting patients, offering specialist skills such as hairdressing or complementary therapies, doing some decorating or gardening or offering bereavement support and information.  Just log on to the Help the Hospices websiteto find your local hospice and then contact them directly to find out if they need volunters.

I haven't done it yet but I'm seriously considering signing up to do a 10k on 11th July. I can choose from a list of charities I want to fundraise for. Not long to train though so I better get bunny hopping!

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