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5 ways to volunteer

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Ever thought ‘there must be a better way of spending my time’? With National Volunteer Day coming up on 5 December, you’ve got inspiration to fill those precious hours outside work with something a bit different. Stylist has scoured the land to find the best volunteering ideas to suit your schedule

Become an Olympic Ambassador

Lend your time to the Olympic project and volunteer to be one of the 8000 people needed by Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to welcome the hoards of visitors to the capital in 2012. Volunteers will work in a different area of London every day and work will include answering questions and giving directions and travel information to the many tourists due to descend on the city during the Olympic games. Register at londonambassadors.org.uk (until 31 December 2010).

Perform for the homeless

Crisis, one of the country’s biggest homeless charities, need singers, magicians, cabaret artists, comediennes and musicians to perform for the homeless over the Christmas period. The charity puts on a full programme of entertainment which includes everything from live music, comedy, film clubs, circus acts and bingo to giant board games, karaoke, dance troupes, theatre groups, quizzes and magic. The charity also requires volunteers to run creative workshops on dance, theatre, music, comedy and more. If you could lend a hand between 23–29 December, go to crisis.org.uk for more details.

Take the elderly for tea

Nationwide age charity, Contact the Elderly run monthly afternoon teas across the country for older people living alone. Offering support and companionship over scones and cucumber sandwiches, volunteers are needed to drive people to and from host events. You’ll need your own car to take older members to and from the volunteer host’s home for tea, cake and companionship, and volunteers take it in turn to welcome a small group (under 10) into their home for a few hours. The only other requirements for the job are a big teapot, a downstairs loo and easy access to your house. For more information, visit contact-the-elderly.org.uk

Help a child in need

Working alongside social services, CSV volunteers in Child Protection act as a mentor to either a family or an individual child experiencing difficulties, helping out with anything from working out a family budget to helping with homework. There are ViCP projects in Bromley, Islington, Lewisham, Southend-on-Sea and Coventry and volunteers need to live locally and be able to commit to several visits a week for a minimum of six months. If you think you’re up for the challenge, visit csv.org.uk/vicp

Train a guide dog

Spend your spare time taking guide dog puppies for walks, training them up and even having them come stay with you at weekends with nationwide charity, Guide Dogs. The charity needs full-time ‘puppy walkers’ to raise puppies until they’re a year old, which includes teaching them basic commands and familiarising them with busy environments. Alternatively, you could also sign up as a ‘boarder’ – dropping your dog off with a trainer each morning and caring for them during the evenings and weekends. To get your own Andrex puppy, go to guidedogs.org.uk

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