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

Having a break

 ice park El Chico438@ flickrI reckon volunteering to do the washing up after the Christmas dinner doesn't count, so yes, I'm going to have a break.

But Sam's volunteering with a local homeless charity near her parents, Kate's going to cook the family Xmas meal while her mother volunteers, Alex is off to Anguila and Juliet's off to have a baby (though we're secretly hoping she'll become our researcher on what volunteering you can do with your child!).

Volunteers deserve a break too - so enjoy yours if you're planning one and we'll be back in January.

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Holiday thoughts...

As TimeBank winds down for the Christmas holiday I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year and to say thank you to all of our volunteers and partners for helping to make it such an incredible 2009.

This year we've supported thousands of people into volunteering opportunities, and we've added a number of new projects to our portfolio, from young people not in education employment or training  in Sunderland to muslim women in London.

Behind the scenes we’ve also spent time working on a new strategy, vision and mission to take us into our second decade in 2010. We are hugely excited about what the New Year holds for us and hope that you will continue to be involved and share all the new things that are to come in our 10th anniversary year.

From all of us at TimeBank have a wonderful holiday and a volunteering filled New Year!

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Catch the last post

From the Library of CongressToday is your  last chance to get your greetings cards in the post before Christmas (weather permitting). 

You could add one more to your list this year.  Between 1 November and 31 January Amnesty International asks us to send a card to offer hope to someone in danger or unjustly imprisoned. These cards can also help keep them safe and play a small part in bringing about change.

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Hello, Polly Toynbee speaking

Newspapers generally have a Christmas campaign and it seems that the Guardian is no different, and this year they've got some of their star columnists, including Polly Toynbee  volunteering to answer the phone on this Saturday's Christmas appeal.  This appeal is to fundraise but I found out that the South London Press is encouraging its readers to volunteer this Christmas.

It's great to see the media get involved in volunteering at Christmas. You can too, on our Christmas page.

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Bring back national service?

'Serving your community should be woven into every stage of your life..' is the title and proposal from think tank Demos, in their latest report Service Nation.

The report aims to progress the debate about having a national youth civic service and on how national service would work in Britain.

One of the questions they look at is should a national civic service be complusory or voluntary - what do you think?

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No vacancies

no vacancy © smcgee

"Sorry, we're full."

It's not what you expect to hear when you offer your time to support others at Christmas & New Year. Surely there are thousands in need of support?  But this period is one of the peaks in the volunteering year.

And charities often need time to train their volunteers, or time to complete Criminal Record Bureau checks for volunteers that support children and vulnerable people.

On our Christmas & New Year website, we've put together something for everyone - but already some are full and no longer accepting volunteers. So, we've just added some new opportunities and actively looking for more. Let us know how you get on.

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Volunteering in your slippers

squeky fluffly bunny slippers c flickr.comApparently it's going to be a very cold weekend, so it's no surprise that you might want to stay indoors in your biggest wooly jumper and toasty slippers. Fair enough, so why not try Online volunteering? Support organisations all over the world by helping them write a strategic plan, put a funding proposal together or even use your creativity to design a website or promotional materials.

Virtual travel and volunteering - who'd have thought you could have such a great experience in your slippers? 

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Volunteers' rights

Human rights c hrea.orgIf you're a volunteer can you be sacked? Do you have the same rights as a paid employee?

You might be shocked to hear that as a volunteer many laws designed to protect employees don't apply equally to you. Not surprisingly, this has led to some very public claims both for unfair dismissal and discrimination brought by volunteers against organisations.

A national inquiry is to be held over the next couple of months which will examine the issues and challenges around the rights of volunteers.   The relationship between an organisation and its volunteers is a very special and fragile one so it will be interesting to see what comes from this.

Got an opinion?  Volunteering England want you to share your experiences and  opinions with them.

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