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

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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5 Days

What would you do with five days of paid leave to use for volunteering?

NCVO have published a new manifestio which calls for all workers to be offered five days' paid leave each year to carry out volunteering roles.

I personally support this. TimeBank gives staff five days volunteering leave. I confess; I haven't used all mine up yet. But I will do.

Do you get paid leave for volunteering where you work?

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Uniting Women

Time TogetherA few of us from the communications team went to a book launch party last week for Action Aid.

The book of poems which can be bought online today to mark International Women's Day is a celebration of women and includes quotes by internationally famous women such as Carol Ann Duffy and Dame Judi Dench along with words from inspirational women from the developing world.

It's such a powerful way of bringing together the western and developing world, highlighting womens' strength, humor and hope but also the struggles that they face on a daily basis. Not just through poetry but women from different countries can be brought together through volunteering too - I'm lucky to be part of our Time Together project where I mentor a lovely female refugee from Iran.  

I've just been matched with her so I'm looking forward to getting to know her more, helping her reach her goals of perfecting her English and visiting the London sights so that she can understand our history and feel part of our society. It's also a fascinating way to learn more about Iran and their beautiful culture and traditions.

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A 6am start

alarm clock c laffy4kGetting up at 6am isn't good for me. Or so I thought.

Michelle (my TimeBank mate) and I went to The Passage on Tuesday morning to volunteer to serve breakfast to homeless people. I had a hard time staying away from the sausages and bacon but luckily I was kept busy buttering toast.

It gives you a wake up call (literally) getting even just a small glimpse into a homeless person's life and it made me realise how lucky I am. That might sound a bit naff but work has been so busy recently and I've even been moaning that I'm tired because of a few nights out.

So actually sometimes 6am starts can be good for you.

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Volunteering as Punishment

The other week I saw this post about an 11 your old girl who is being required to do six hours of "volunteer work" to get her free Oyster card back or else face a ban of one year.

There has been a lot of discussion around the increase in the use of community service.

Should something be referred to as volunteering if it's not entirely voluntary?

Apparently those that volunteer (especially at an early age) really enjoy it and go on to volunteer more as they go through life. Some agree with this "ends justifies the means" argument. Others don't.

What do you think? Is it OK to use the word volunteering when referring to punishment through community service?

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Donate a Day

AI logoFlicking through my Amnesty magazine this week I noticed that they've launched a volunteering scheme called 'Amnesty Hours'. You pledge 24 hours of your time over the course of a year to carry out tasks for which you can earn the charity a donation. So you help design a website, walk someone's dog or cook someone a meal and instead of paying you they donate the fee to Amnesty. Helping people in your community and raising money for a good cause - what's not to like?

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