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

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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Fly the Great Britain flag for volunteering

London 20<img class=Has anyone been watching this year's Winter Olympics in Whistler - I tuned in for a bit last night and my thoughts turned to the amount of volunteers involved.

I did a quick bit of digging this morning and found out there are 25,000 people that are volunteering to help make the games a success. With London hosting the Olympics in 2012 I wonder how many people will get to complete their own Olympic dream to volunteer?

You can register your interest now to  be one of the 70,000 volunteers needed to volunteer at the games themselves. The application process opens early this Summer. But dont worry,  there are more ways us Brits can play our part in Olympic volunteering.

Volunteers are also needed to to meet and greet and welcome people into our capital so if you picture yourself as a bit of a tour guide and are quite clued up on the history of London then this type of volunteering could be for you.

The application process to be a 'Host City Volunteer' will open early next year and they need 65,000 volunteers, so keep your eyes peeled. But why wait? Part of volunteering at the London Olympics is to help showcase our country as an inspirational nation of volunteers. So what are you waiting for? Volunteer through us and we know you'll become addicted!

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Fashion Forward

Yuliya Libkina on flickrStill reeling from London Fashion Week?  Visions of becoming the next Vivienne Westwood?  Read on for some suggestions of how to get a foot in the door by volunteering in the wonderful world of fashion...

Crisis are looking for someone to help run a fashion design course at their Skylight activity centre for homeless people.  The closing date is 3rd March so jump to it if you're interested in applying!

You may remember Mary 'Queen of Shops' Portas revitalizing branches of Save the Children charity shops with her fashion-forward thinking.  Well now, alongside other retail roles the charity are looking for 'fashion volunteers' to help sort the Armanis from the Primarks.

And if you're in South London, Set Fashion Free is an initiative designed to engage young people in creative enterprise, fashion and black culture and identity.  They're looking for researchers, a web content manager and make up artists.

Fabulous, darlings!

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Beat it

Fist c Noel FearnIs Gordon Brown a bully? The debate continues. Whether he is or not there are bullies out there - you could help to crack this problem.

Become a volunteer counsellor with the NSPCC or if you're 18-25 you could volunteer as a cyber mentor for Beat Bullying - helping young people affected by bullying. At Action on Elder Abuse you could volunteer on their helpline or spread the word in your local area.

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Something borrowed, something blue

wedding c archetypeA friend of mine, Heather, wants to get into volunteering so she asked me if I had any ideas. Our conversation went a bit like this:

Me: "What kind of thing do you want to do?"

Heather: "Really not sure. Maybe something outdoors - to start with?"

Me: "Cool, there's loads of places that do that- I'll have a look into it."

Whilst I was looking Fran (another TimeBank blogger) happened to mention that the National Trust do loads of volunteering opportunities, things that you might not expect them to do. I had a look - Heather is sorted. I've found her some gardening but I'm definitely going to tell her about the other opportunities - from being a room or events guide to a learning assistant. And even, get this, a wedding steward.  Who'd have thought?

Heather, if you're reading this - you asked for some gardening and I threw in a wedding!

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It's student volunteering week

SVweek2010c©volunteering englandSo what do students do when asked to come up with their own volunteering projects?

Take a look on Junction49 - it's impressive.

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Volunteer Volunteer Manager

Could you volunteer to be a Volunteer Manager?

Brightone is a totally volunteer run communications agency providing professional communications support and advice to charities.

They are searching for a "Superhero" to volunteer as their Volunteer Manager.

The comparison is probably not that far off, Superman and Spiderman were volunteers and I reckon spending up to four hours each week managing a team of volunteers may indeed require super powers.

If you feel up for the challenge - forget wearing your underpants outside your clothes for now and head on over to the Brightone blog for more details

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