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

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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Supermarket chat

© Simon Shek

I'm a bit suspicious of supermarket checkout assistants who try and chat to me. I think they've been told to chat to their customers by their managers.

Usually I get asked 'how are you today?'

Sometimes, I get asked ''what are you going to cook with those ingredients?'

Yesterday, I got asked 'what do you do for a job?'

We had a great chat about volunteering, but when I asked him whether he'd ever volunteered he said, 'yes, but never unpaid.'

Maybe I need to improve my communication skills.

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Blooming beautiful


Sunshine, a beach, waves lapping on the shore and not forgetting fish and chips. What better way to spend a weekend than being on Brighton beach. The only thing I'd change? Pebbles for sand. Pebbles hurt. One thing that I appreciated was a nice clean beach, which Brighton is, on the whole. The sea doesn't actually look so clean. Needless to say, I wasn't tempted into the brown waves.

Beaches don't keep themselves clean. I'm guessing local councils have that job but I did wonder about how you'd get involved. I couldn't think of anything nicer than being by the sea (preferably in the sun but lets face it, if you wrap up warm in winter it would still be great).

So, if you're lucky enough to live by the sea and want to do your bit for the environment get involved with the Marine Conservation Society and do a beach clean.

The salty breeze in your hair and sun on your back - I wish I lived by the beach.

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My Volunteer Time

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