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

A design for life

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We're holding a series of events in our tenth anniversary year to get people thinking about how volunteering can change our society for the better.

Last week, our event looked at design. TimeBank believes that the way things are designed can influence the way you act and feel. And the same can be said of volunteering. That's why we design great volunteering experiences that have a lasting impact.

Speakers, including award winning designer, Wayne Hemingway showed us how design can be used to have a social impact.  Take a look for yourself.

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Monday morning blues?

I don't like Monday mornings.   Not for any reason in particular - just that  the weekend's over and it's a full five days to the next.

But something happened last Monday to cheer up my day.  And no I hadn't won the lottery. And George Clooney hadn't turned up on my doorstep asking to take me out.

It was something much more everyday and simple.

The  coordinator for the project I volunteer on told me that for the first time in a long time - the person I mentor said she was enjoying meeting me and things were good for her.  Not groundbreaking?  But for someone recovering  from a mental health issue its great news and is proof that all the hours I've spent with her, meeting for coffee and doing everyday things really has made a difference.

And I felt great - and I can't say that happens many  Monday mornings.

So why not do something great and make this the week you start volunteering?

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Free Festivals!

Michael_Spencer on FlickrDoo-wop. Fusion. Breakbeat. Psychobilly. Shoegaze.

Whatever type of music you’re into there’s bound to be a festival on this summer which caters to it.  As well as the big names like Glastonbury and Womad there are tons of smaller ‘boutique’ festivals cropping up which offer an interesting mix of music, arts and entertainment.

What's great is, plenty of them offer free tickets to those who are prepared to do a bit of volunteering onsite, be it serving drinks or picking up litter.  Each festival operates differently in terms of what it expects from volunteers so check out the small print.  To get you started, here are a few examples for those who live in Scotland, Brighton or Yorkshire.  And of course Oxfam offer stewarding opportunities at festivals all over the UK. Rockin’.

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Save our libraries!

Timeless BooksWouldn't it be sad if your local library closed? Ok, I'm guilty of not using my local library as much as I should but it would be a shame to lose it. I read recently that Councils are making cuts (nothing new there), this time by closing libraries.

Before you wave goodbye to your library card though, there may be a solution. Volunteers. Some libraries are completely run by volunteers and that's why they're able to stay open. So, find out if your local library needs your time - you never know, you might be saving a bit of history.

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Cash for training

Money by RachelhHow many of you out there have started your own group – whether it be a parents group or a self help group which is volunteer led and maybe volunteer run. Do you have a volunteer manager?  And if you do have one do they feel confident in the role?

Great news is that there is now money available for a Volunteer Management Programme.  It’s a bursary scheme worth £1m to support volunteer management skills development.  This means that people can apply from today, Monday 22 March 2010 for individual bursaries of up to £1950. You better get in there quick because I think the demand will be enormous.

Sound interesting? Well, here’s more information from the people holding the purse strings.

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Talk to us

Talk to usWe value your feedback. I'm not just saying that. We really do.

Here at TimeBank the volunteer is at the heart of everything we do. It's why we exist. While certainly not the only place we connect with volunteers, our website is at the heart of our initial contact with many of you.

It's been a few years since we last rebuilt our website. Sure we have made many changes and improvements since then; even given the site a lick of paint to keep it looking fresh.  We feel it's now time to look at it anew and make sure it is still doing the best job possible for volunteers.

We have a few ideas ourselves but we would really like to hear what you think. What would you like to see on the website? What is missing? What works and what doesn't?

How do you want to talk with us?  Please leave your comments and suggestions below, or pop your ideas into our feedback site.

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Mixing it up

One of my main criteria when looking for a volunteering opportunity is that it’s not too much like my actual job.  Not that I don’t love my actual job of course.  Just that I like the idea that any volunteering I choose to do will challenge me in slightly different ways to my 9-5 office work.  So, while it can be great to utilize your professional skills and training in your voluntary role, it can be a lot more fun to do something completely different.

Here at TimeBank we’ve got a finance manager reading to primary school children, a communications manager mentoring a teenager and a member of our youth team helping older people get to grips with the internet.  Variety is the spice of life and all that.

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Fancy going on a volunteering holiday?

beach-holidayHave you ever thought about what it would be like to volunteer overseas but when it came to the crunch you bottled out of it? Why not dip your toe in the water so to speak by checking out this volunteer exchange programme  The Wave of Friendship It supports the exchange of volunteers between Scotland and London and you can get upto £500 to cover your travel, accommodation and other expenses.

Volunteers can choose any opportunity that takes place between now and September 2012 that demonstrates the values of the Olympics movement: Friendship, Respect, Excellence, Courage, Determination, Equality and Inspiration.

You can call and have a chat or why not just fill in the application form - go on dip your toe in today.

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