Volunteering needn’t be a one-off emergency measure – you can get involved in making Brighton lovelier whenever you’ve got some spare time. CommunityBase.org has a full list but here’s just a few things you can do in various areas that could do with your help.
BRUNSWICK OLDER PEOPLE’S PROJECT
Old people are ace. You get to a point in life where you stop giving a rat’s ass what other people think of you, and don’t spare the horses when it comes to your alarming opinions. Unfortunately a lot of old folk end up isolated at home with no one to share them with, so get pally with a pensioner via the Brunswick Older People’s Project. It’s an hour a week and you’d get to hear cool stories about the Blitz and stuff – impact-initiatives.org.uk is the place to go.
CCHF ALL ABOUT KIDS
This is a registered charity inspiring and motivating disadvantaged kids aged 7-12. You could help on excursions and activities like beach trips, bike rides, cooking, swimming and generally steering them away from putting JD Sports’ windows in. Go to cchf-allaboutkids.org.uk for more info.
If you’re a patient, sympathetic type, you might well be of some use to the Gender Trust. They run a national helpline for people experiencing gender dysphoria, which basically amounts to being a massive ball of identity confusion. You could help direct the troubled callers to local resources who provide practical help or just provide a friendly ear to someone in crisis for a few hours a week. They’re at gendertrust.org.uk
These good people help ex-service folk who’ve had their sight ruined in the name of queen and country. Not being able to see stuff naturally precludes many of them from playing a lot of games together, but you can feel the dots on dominoes, so they seem to play that a fair bit. To this end they’re looking for a dominoes volunteer to help out and possibly stop any armed escalation of domino-related arguments – St-Dunstans.org.uk has all the info.
THE CHILDREN’S SOCIETY
This kids’ society is looking for volunteer befrienders to provide a buddy role for disabled youngsters. Your role would be to hang out with a disabled kid once a fortnight or so, encourage them to build confidence and self-esteem via participation in leisure stuff like swimming and the cinema or even just hanging out in Churchill Square together. Whatever helps them. Email email@example.com.
BRIGHTON UNEMPLOYED CENTRE FAMILIES PROJECT
Volunteers are needed to help in their crèche centre, helping with kids while their parents get all sorts of advice about housing, welfare, benefits and all the other exciting challenges unemployment offers. BUFCP.org tells you more about their work and how you can get involved.
We’re longtime friends of the Martlets at SOURCE – they do loads of good work with terminally ill people, and they’ve got a number of charity shop volunteer openings across the city that you could help with. All manner of shop-based roles will fall into your lap – accepting donations, displaying stock, serving customers and helping with Gift-Aid procedures. Details at themartletshospice.org.uk
HELP THE AGED
Do you like books? Do you like old people? If so, this could be the thing for you. Help The Aged in Hove needs someone to sort through the books people donate, price them up and display them all lovely to maximise the book revenue stream through the shop. It’s a Monday morning gig, so if that fits with you email Leah on firstname.lastname@example.org
TERRENCE HIGGINS TRUST
The THT is always looking for volunteers and right now there’s a specific Thursday opening to join an informal group of condom stuffers. Yes, it made us do a comedy double take as well, but they actually stuff them into information wallet-type things and give them out at Pride and World Aids Day events. Stuff loads of condoms, hang out with fellow stuffers, prevent the spread of HIV. It’s win-win at THT.org.uk
BRIGHTON & HOVE FOOD PARTNERSHIP
Volunteering isn’t always about mopping up piss and stuff, you can get yourself outdoors and toil in the soil like in the proper olden days. This group wants a harvest garden volunteer to help out at their fruit and veg plot in Preston Park – working towards a sustainable citywide food system via local produce, agricultural education and proper food waste usage. Dig up some info at harvest-bh.org.uk
The most famous advocates of human rights in the world ever, and proper human rights at that – not paedos getting Sky dishes, they’re about stopping torture and death and everything. Join one of their campaign groups who meet each month to put pressure on dictators to stop doing bad things to people – visit amnesty.org.uk/brighton
Kate Telfer is a local volunteer coordinator using social networking to harness the power of good in the community, via facebook.com/eventvolunteers and @eventvolunteers.
“I wanted a career change, and I decided the best way to get into fundraising and charity work is showing you’re prepared to put the time in and also learning from the experience. That’s why I started volunteering last year and it grew from there. I began helping out at events around Brighton, then I got involved in Oxjam last year, which is a much bigger project. Through that I worked with Kemptown Carnival at the beginning of this year; that’s when things took off even more.
“I love organising and being involved in events. When you volunteer you feel like you’ve done your bit – I don’t have the financial situation at the moment where I can put loads of money into charities but if I can give up some time instead I feel like I’m giving something back. It can be one weekend a year – it doesn’t have to be much but it’s so hard to find volunteers that it can mean a hell of a lot. Even a three or four hour shift makes a real difference.
“I don’t really have any favourite causes, at the moment I’m doing a lot of work for Oxfam but I’m involved with a lot of local charities as well. In general there’s no such thing as a bad charity. Everyone’s in the same boat, they’re all in the same financial position. Ultimately lots of events don’t go ahead because they lack volunteers, and these events are essential to their fundraising.
“The Facebook and Twitter have taken off but they probably need more publicity. It’d be great for all the events in Brighton to get involved and use it; it’s a free service after all, for both event organisers and people who want to volunteer their services.”
WORDS BY NICK COQUET