Care for your community

If you live in London, one of the best ways to get the most out of it is to give something back once in a while. Whether you’re looking for a one-off ‘good deed’ or a way to help out more consistently, Volunteers’ Week can probably help. This week (1-7 June) there are events all round London that you can get involved in to find out what’s available and where you could help. Take a look at their website and see what grabs you.

If you’re looking for something long term, two good community-based charities I know of are Foodbanks and Good Gym.

Before you ask, no, I haven’t ever used Good Gym – it’s for people who want to keep fit and do good at the same time. So they might go on a run that takes them to the home of a lonely older person, sit and have a cup of tea and a chat with them, then run home. Other times they run to an older person’s house and do a bit of gardening or other household tasks.

I came across them because they volunteer at my Foodbank quite regularly: any time Foodbank is doing a stock take the gymmers run there, spend an hour or so lifting crates of tins on and off the shelves, then run home. It gives them a great workout, and saves an awful lot of time and effort for the Foodbank staff. Why spend hours on a treadmill or lifting weights in a gym when you could be doing the same level of exercise but with the extra buzz of a sense of purpose?

If you don’t know by now, Foodbanks are organisations that provide emergency food parcels for those in greatest need – people caught in the gap between claiming their benefits and receiving them, those who are out of work due to illness and struggling to make ends meet, or others who have simply reached the end of their resources and need a little extra help to make it through.

They’re situated all over London (and the UK), and are always on the lookout for volunteers. Every one is slightly different, in terms of the days they open and how often they need you to volunteer, so find your nearest on the Trussell Trust website and see what they say.


What: giving a little something back

When: any time

How much: free (emotional costs may apply, but the rewards outweigh them!)

Where: wherever your skills meets the world’s need

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