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


© the UK is now one of the top three surveillance states in the world, third only to China and Russia. I saw a preview of David Bond's new film, Erasing David, last week. It's being shown on More 4 next Tuesday and explores privacy, surveillance and the information that is held about us all in the UK on public and private databases. In the discussion following the screening, David Bond got asked about whether surveillance was necessary to protect our safety and keep us secure.

He suggested that only the minimum information necessary should be collected and stored, but one of the keys to us all feeling safe comes from knowing our neighbours and feeling part of the community. So, if you want to get involved in your local community, just add your name to TimeBank's database of over 250,000 people interested in volunteering (and if you're worried about what we do with your data you can check out our privacy policy).

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Give and Gain Day - 9th July 2010

9786_BITC_GiveAndGain_2010_clear_backgroundGive and Gain Day will be taking place on July 9th all across the country.

Its the UK's largest day of action for employee volunteers - getting employees to give their time and expertise during work hours.

Do you work or volunteer with an organisation that could really do with a bunch of volunteers for a day who would  come along and get something done?

Now is your chance to get in touch and make sure that your volunteering opportunity is on the website. Heres a link to all the local Give and Gain Day contacts across the UK.  Get in touch with them now and they will help you to put your opportunity onto the website.  Take a look and see how local charities are getting people involved in on July 9th.

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Nature watch

hamed saber on flickrOne of my finest memories from school is the day we were allowed out of the confines of our classroom and into the wilds of the local woods.  In the name of science we were given magnifying glasses and funny little plastic bottles with which to ‘suck up’ bugs.  Throw wellies and a picnic into the mix and what you’ve got there is a good nature time.

It all came flooding back when I saw the website for BioBlitz 2010. Snazzy name eh? A BioBlitz is, according to the website, ‘a large scale event that engages large numbers of people with biodiversity, inviting them to get directly involved in surveying and monitoring’.  Which sounds to me a lot like what we did on that school trip. Identifying and recording insects in a big group.

Events are going on all over the UK so if you’re interested in finding out more check out the website or Twitter for the latest information. Don’t forget your wellies!

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A beautiful pothole?

flowers on a street c ken2754@Yokohama A guy in London doesn't have a garden (not unusual here) but loves gardening so is resorting to filling potholes with pretty flowers. It's a lovely idea; it brings colour to our streets and gets rid of nasty potholes - at least until it gets squashed anyway.

Become a guerilla gardener and transform unloved pieces of land, or a pothole if you so wish, into something beautiful.  We could all do with a bit more colour in our lives.

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Freewheeling for life

I love it when I discover new ways to volunteer. I don't ride a motorbike, but if I did, I think this would be one for me.

As a motorcylclist with Freewheelers EVS   you ride one of their 'blood bikes' transporting emergency supplies for the NHS. They save the NHS thousands of pounds that would otherwise be spent on couriers and taxis. But more than anything, they ride because they love it.

You have to be over 25, have a full, unrestricted, motorcycle license and an advanced qualification.  They only operate in the South West - but due to demand, they've pooled the information you need to start your own group.

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Volunteer, change your career

Curriculum VitaeYes, yes, giving up your time to benefit someone else is all very nice and aren't you good for doing it? But it doesn't all have to be about what you're doing for them. Think about what volunteering is doing to your CV and your employability.  If you are thinking about changing career or you're trying to break into a certain field, there are plently of volunteer placements that can get you ahead of the game.

Want a job in PR but haven't got any relevant experience? Bright One really is the perfect organisation for you to volunteer with. They are currently looking for an Account Executive.  If you're a  student, graduate or career changer, this is an exciting opportunity to gain invaluable practical experience in PR.

Want to be the next Rankin or John Simpson?  The Lesbian and Gay Foundation in Manchester are looking for volunteer photographers and reporters.

Thinking about teaching but want a taster first? YourStory is a London-based, not-for-profit organisation that works with disadvantaged people from all social and ethnic backgrounds. Their projects include education and career devlopment programmes for young people and some are based in primary and secondary schools. Voluntary roles are tailored to the kinds of skills you want to develop. Read their volunteer page for more detailed information and how to get in touch.

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Pass the tissues

Box of tissues c profernityI saw the film Blind Side last night - the one Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for. I thought it would be a bit cheesy and too 'Hollywood' but I gave it a go - I couldn't be bothered with anything too intellectual on a Sunday night. 

I'm no film critic and I'm a sucker for a nice story (I've been known to get a tear in my eye watching Eastenders) but it was pretty good - mainly because it made me think. Short synopis - a rich American woman and her family change the life of a homeless teenager. 

You could say it was easy because they had money to help him out but it wasn't that that changed his (and their) lives. It was giving him hope and support. You don't need money to do that. Being a volunteer mentor for an organisation like Catch22 could change the life of a young person too.

Oh dear, I'm welling up again - I'm off to get a tissue.

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Support our troops

Not a week goes by without the sad news that one of our soldiers serving in Afghanistan has been killed.

While they are far from home - there are things we can do here in the UK to volunteer and show your support.  The Royal British Legion is one organisation that needs volunteers to continue its work to safeguard the welfare, interests and memory of those who are serving or who have served in the Armed Forces. 

 Their annual Poppy Appeal is the best known of their campaigns but they also need:

  • Volunteer caseworkers - working in the local community and giving advice and help on anything from state benefits to bereavement.
  • Volunteers to visit ex-service men and women who are housebound or in hospital.
  • People to take part in their  fundraising events - from Pedal to Paris to the London Marathon.

Find out how you can get involved.

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