By Michaela Gray
WHETHER you’re well versed in the field of unpaid work or yet to lend a hand for free, London is the place to boost your volunteering credentials.
Aside from the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get from helping the community, there are plenty of added bonuses to be found in our top five volunteer experiences.
1. Oxfam stewarding
Guarantee your entry to some of the UK’s biggest music festivals (think Glastonbury, Download and Bestival) by signing up to be an Oxfam steward. These are the men and women who check tickets, monitor crowds, answer questions from festival-goers and generally ensure the event runs smoothly. In return for working an eight hour shift you’ll received free entry to the festival. Who said volunteering couldn’t help your bank balance?!
2. London events
The Mayor of London’s office is eager to keep the spirit of the 2012 Olympics alive with an online database of volunteer gigs at sporting events across the city. Cheerers are in hot demand and you can sign up to clap and whoop for as little as two hours. Refreshments are provided and usually a t-shirt thrown in to get you in team spirit. There are also positions for PR, Communications and Event Management professionals who are happy to offer their expertise free of charge.
3. Green thumbs
Green Gyms are an initiative encouraging volunteers to think of conservation as an opportunity for outdoor exercise while helping the environment. A warm-up kicks off the session which finishes with a cool down, while there’s a tea break in between to keep you hydrated (BYO protein shake). There are local projects all over town – get in touch through The Conservation Volunteers website.
4. Full time placement
If you’re interested in a career in social work or health care, a full time stint as a community service volunteer will do wonders for your CV. You could get to work helping a person with a disability to live independently, assist in a homeless shelter or a group home for the aged. In return you’ll receive free accommodation, meals and payment for day to day expenses. No qualifications are required.
5. Charity bucket collectors
Love them or loathe them, charity bucket collections are an effective way to fundraise. You can sign up to shake a pale of coins at passers-by in aid of diabetes research. Diabetes UK has teamed up with Tesco to hold the Big Collection Weekend (4-6 October) hoping to raise £400,000 during for people living with and at risk of the disease. Bucket collections will be located at 600 Tesco stores and 8,000 volunteers are needed for shifts of just three hours.