Kindfulness

A guide to volunteering at a charity no matter how much (or little) time you have

Posted by
Megan Murray
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We know you have a busy schedule, but if being kinder is on your to-do list, then this one’s for you. 

If ever there was a time to embrace being a truly good egg, it’s now.

Self-care, kindfulness and looking after your mental wellbeing are all trends on the rise, with terms like ’bullet journaling’ and ‘being kind to yourself’ reportedly spiking on platforms like Pinterest, which has seen a 97% rise in ‘kind’ topics on a whole. 

But although investing in a new bullet journal, trying slow living techniques and introducing some stress-relieving beauty products into your skincare routine are all good steps towards being kind to yourself, we think one of the best ways to have a happy mind is to give back to those around you. And volunteering is an excellent place to start. 

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Volunteering can be difficult to fit into a busy schedule, and most opportunities aren’t available on a drop-in basis. If you don’t have time to make a regular commitment, but would still love to give back to your community, then worry not; there is still a way to help the charities you’re passionate about.

We’ve looked at ways that you can volunteer across a range of charities and activities you can do in your spare time, however many hours that may be. From just one hour a week, to an evening a week, to a day a month, all of these opportunities (either in London or across the UK) are somewhat flexible, and can be worked around your existing schedule. 

We hope you find one that works for you, so you can start spread that inner kindness around. 

One hour a week 

Become a young person’s mentor at The Kids Network 

The Kids Network in North London is a mentorship scheme that matches adults with children, aged between eight and 11, to act as an emotional support for them. The flexible year-long programme focuses on supporting children as they transition between primary and secondary school, helping build their confidence.

As a mentor you would need to commit to a minimum of one hour a week, on either a Saturday or Sunday, to meet with your mentee and spend some quality time with them, developing trust and eventually becoming a source of support for them.

The only other commitments you would be expected to have are attending occasional large scale community events with your mentee and to attend a meet-up session with your fellow volunteers at least every three months.

Think this could be for you? See more here. 

Join an Age UK Charity Shop team

Age UK has 400 charity shops all over the country that help fund the charity’s mission to support older people in later life, but each of these shops can only run with volunteer’s help. There are four different ways you can give your time to a shop: serving customers, managing shop admin, sorting stock or creating window displays.

Each one is a worthy and important role, and after the initial two week recruitment process it’s up to you to decide how much time you can spare, the only minimum being an hour a week.

Think this could be for you? See more here. 

One evening a month 

Community Mentor at Futures East

Futures East is a project focused on enabling young people between the ages of 16-25, who have learning disabilities, are on the autism spectrum or have additional support needs, to take part in exciting voluntary roles within their local communities of Hackney and the surrounding Boroughs.

As a volunteer you’ll make this possible, by providing them with invaluable one-to-one support and helping them with logistical needs, such as travelling with them to their volunteer role. The timings will vary according to what your mentee has got going on, but as a minimum you’re expected to dedicate two hours a week, which could fit nicely into an evening after work. 

Think this could be for you? See more here. 

Childline Admin volunteer

Become an admin volunteer at this cornerstone charity, which has been helping vulnerable children for over 100 years. You’ll help in the behind-the-scenes running of the office, assisting from the ground up. From processing case notes to collecting feedback from volunteers, there’s always something to be done.

Admin volunteers are asked to give a few hours a week at times that work for them, making it the perfect opportunity if you’ve only got an evening to spare. 

Think this could be for you? See more here. 

One day a month 

Bucket collection volunteer at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

As a bucket collector you’ll need people skills, resilience and patience, standing mainly in train stations near the Battersea (London) area raising funds for one of the country’s most-loved animal charities. You can rest assured that every penny you raise will go towards the animals at the shelter, providing medicine for a sick puppy or food for a cat that’s fallen on hard times. 

This position is super flexible and can fit around your other commitments. All the charity asks is that once a month you give between two hours and a full day bucket collecting, making it the perfect activity for a free Saturday. 

Although you won’t have direct contact with all the animals the charity looks after, you’re encouraged to engage with the public as a smiley face and representative. Oh, and you might get a furry friend to help you prise those coins from passerby’s hands. The charity has some dedicated ambassador dogs which attend the collections, which might sweeten the deal for you.

Think this could be for you? See more here. 

Photographers and videographers for the Fawcett Society 

Feminist charity, the Fawcett Society, aims to continue the work of suffragist Millicent Fawcett who was instrumental in the women’s rights movement over 100 years ago, fighting for gender equality. The charity’s head office is based in London but there are opportunities to work at various events they put on across the year, particularly as a photographer or videographer, offering the chance to get involved whenever works for you.

Sign up as a volunteer through the website and the society will get in touch to let you know when the next event is on and speak about the kind of documentation they want of the day. This is a wonderfully creative and unique way to help them spread their message, which would involve giving up a whole day to be at an event, but without any regular expectancy. 

Think this could be for you? See more here. 

For one day only on Thursday 15 November, Katie Piper has taken over stylist.co.uk as part of The Kindfulness Project, packing the site with articles on what she’s learned about empathy and the importance of self-care..

For similarly inspiring and uplifting content, check out Katie Piper’s Extraordinary People, available on Apple Podcasts now.

Images: Getty 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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