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

Cupcakes for men

cupcake Butch Bakery Cupcakes make manly cupcakes. For manly men. And no, it's not a joke.

Volunteering it seems is mostly for women. 70% of you who sign up with TimeBank are women.

But we do manly volunteering too.

It’s not what you might think. Manly volunteering isn’t all muscle and sweat – for example, we need men to mentor other male refugees in London.

Many charities are keen to recruit men so why not encourage all those men that you know (and yes, I’m assuming you’re mostly female if you’re on our site) to think about volunteering. Volunteers sometimes get cake too!

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Missing Masterchef

ReneS on FlickrSince Masterchef finished on Wednesday I think I’ve been suffering from withdrawal symptoms.  Where will I get my fix of ‘big rustic flavours’ and poncey desserts with three kinds of fruit puree?  I’ve been reading recipe books and online food blogs but it’s just not hitting the spot.

You see, I’m one of those annoying people who dedicates way more time to reading and watching programmes about cooking than actually doing it.  I get sucked in by the luscious photography and smooth talking French chefs but often get home too tired and lazy to knock up anything more exciting than pasta and pesto.

So, how to put my interest in food into real life practice?  Well, I found a great charity called The Food Chain which distributes meals to those affected by HIV in London.  They are determined to make sure that people living with the virus need not go without healthy and sustaining food and provide not only home delivered meals but also nutrition advice to those who need it.  There’s also the Let’s Get Cooking campaign which sets up cooking clubs all over the UK to encourage families to learn how to make healthy, tasty food.

Perhaps I need to turn the TV off and get my pinny on….

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Challenging volunteering

A story in the news this week has highlighted again that although not all volunteering can be fun - it can be rewarding.

A team of volunteers have the harrowing and serious task of searching for the body of  Keith Bennett, a victim of the Moors murderers, on Saddleworth Moor.

Volunteers from the Global Rescue Services and International Rescue Training Centre teams are carrying on the work abandoned by the police last year.  The police investigation is now classed as 'dormant'. Only a major scientific breakthrough or fresh evidence would prompt them to start a new search.

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Roll up, roll up!

Trailer Graphic

Wayne Hemingway, the award winning designer, has some great volunteering roles up for grabs.

Speaking at a TimeBank event last week, Wayne spoke about how design can help improve the way we live our lives. He’s helping showcase the best of British culture at his new festival – Vintage at Goodwood.

Dubbed ‘The Festival of Our Lives’, it will combine the best of contemporary music, fashion, art, design and culture from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s  - you can even pay a visit to Oxfam’s first charity shop from 1947 recreated on the Vintage High Street.

They need volunteers to pull it off – and are looking for:

  • artists
  • set builders
  • stage production assistants
  • leaflet distributers
  • graphic design assistants
  • web design assistants.

You’ll be supported by a mentor, so if you’re interested send Vintage an email, saying which role you’re interested in, when you’re available (they need people from now until the festival in August) and outline what skills you have.

P.S. If you want to just go and enjoy Vintage at Goodwood, they're giving 10% discount on tickets to TimeBank supporters. Just use this code  - VINTIM10 - when you register.

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How will you spend your 25th hour?

ClockLast Sunday we all had to lose an hour because the clocks went forward.

Well in October we'll all be gaining one. What will you do with that extra hour?

Last week saw the launch of something called the 25th Hour campaign based around the idea that we can all use the extra hour to make a difference. Launched last Tuesday at the Olympic Park with Tessa Jowell and Lord Seb Coe, the campaign aims to use the inspirational power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to motivate us Brits to give time in our  communities.

In October, when the clocks go back and we are all given a real 25th Hour, there will be a national celebration of giving time. But why wait until then - pledge your time and tell the nation how you make a difference to your community through volunteering.

Just log on to the campaign website or if you'd love to start volunteering but don't quite know where to start then call or email us and we can give you some ideas.

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A design for life


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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