is a great way to learn new skills, meet new people, improve your CV and give something back to your community.

Volunteering is simple. It's about giving your time to do something useful, without getting paid (apart from expenses). In return you get the satisfaction of time and effort well spent. In addition, volunteering can be a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and gain valuable experience. You can also expect a reference, and positive experience to add to your CV.

Volunteers do all sorts of things: befriending someone who is isolated, teaching a dance class, helping out a charity with office work. And all sorts of people volunteer – the National Survey of Volunteering found that 22 million people, of all ages and ethnic and social backgrounds, volunteer across England every year. 

Some people volunteer full-time, while others volunteer for a few hours a week or even just for a day on a one-off project. Some organisations are looking for volunteers with certain skills, but most give full training and are just looking for someone with enthusiasm. Whatever your skills are, whatever you enjoy doing, whatever spare time you have, there will be a voluntary opportunity to suit you. 

If you are looking to volunteer locally in your spare time, you could visit your local Volunteer Bureau. Volunteer Bureaux work with local organisations to help them find volunteers. When an organisation needs a volunteer, it will register a vacancy with its local bureau, which will put it on its database. 

Here are details of the volunteer bureau in Lambeth: www.volunteercentrelambeth.noisyspace.com

A quick way to browse opportunities is on the Do-it website: http://www.do-it.org.uk

Most organisations will invite you to an informal interview and ask you to sign a volunteer agreement. This isn’t the same as a contract of work, and is used to give both parties an idea of the commitment involved in the role.
What should I expect as a volunteer?
Again, organisations vary a lot, but there are some basic things that you should expect as a volunteer.

Many organisations will offer travel and / or lunch expenses.