Thursday, August 2, 2012

Volunteering in London: Doing Your Bit This Summer

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Photo by Jessica Mulley

This is a guest post by Charlotte Jones.

If you live in London and don’t take part in volunteer schemes; then shame on you! You’re clearly just a typical Londoner who uses up all of the services, gives all your money to faceless corporations and destroys the environment. Or maybe you’re a nice person who just hasn’t had the time to get involved yet, either way, it’s something to think about. If you love London, giving even just an hour of your time per month can be a hugely rewarding and enjoyable thing to do. You don’t have to be an ecowarrior or a goody two-shoes to enjoy volunteering. Check out five of the most popular schemes below run by Team London, among others, and see if it’s something you might like to get involved in. Let’s protect our fantastic city and make it an even nicer place to live!

Be a hippy and plant some trees

There’s a huge movement towards making our city even greener and improving the environmental landscape. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but our green space is very precious around here. The incumbent Mayor of London is trying to meet the targets they set to increase tree cover by 25% before 2025, so there are a lot of opportunities to get involved and improve our cityscape. Londoners Love Trees is a great charity that works in this sector, so search for them online to find out where and when you can help.

Clean up the streets like the superhero you are

Capital Clean-Up is another great strand of the London volunteer system. With these guys, you can get right to the nitty-gritty of volunteering, helping to clean up the streets from graffiti, litter, help educate young people about crime, etc. There are a huge amount of places and ways you can help and if you think planting trees or building community centres is a little too much of a strain; this might just be the scheme for you.

Work with Usain Bolt (maybe not directly...)

Hundreds of thousands of people have descended on our wonderful capital to watch the London 2012 Olympic Games. Good for the economy, good for our British spirit and even better for potential volunteers. The Games are going to present a number of challenges that you could get involved in. If you aren’t lucky enough to have tickets to an event, you could still get right to the heart of the action by volunteering. Whether it’s picking up litter, or doing something a lot more exciting like welcoming foreign dignitaries, stewarding hundreds of thousands of spectators or helping with one of the biggest security operations in peacetime Britain, the opportunities are certainly there for enthusiastic volunteers. The Games will never return to the UK during our lifetimes, so make the most of the opportunity to be involved in this world event. Sure, you could volunteer abroad at the next Olympic Games, wherever they’re held, but this is the only chance you’ll have to help showcase London to the world. Certainly an exciting prospect if you ask me!

If none of these schemes take your interest there are thousands more different programmes you might like to get involved in. Go to the city council website or talk to your local council offices and they’ll be able to help. If you’re heading away this summer, there’s still no excuse not to get involved and you could take your volunteer skills global! Want to save the world and not just London? Go to volunteer abroad programs to see what other projects take place.

Charlotte Jones is studying Modern European Languages at University of Liverpool. She loves foreign languages, travelling and advertising.

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