How do you find time to build the Big Society?
The prime minister wants to build a "big society" by getting volunteers to run services. With our work-life balance already under pressure, how do those with busy jobs and families find the spare time?
OK, so you'd like to give something back to the community. You want to improve the lot of your fellow citizens. Well done.
But first you have to commute to work, put in a shift and trudge back home.
Then the kids need feeding, the dog needs walking and the house needs a clean... and already, the day is almost over.
David Cameron says he wants to rebuild Britain by harnessing "people power" - getting volunteers to run post offices, libraries, transport services and shape housing projects.
But if surveys are to be believed, it may be that the biggest obstacle to his plans may not be his political opponents, but the 24-hour clock.
A 2007 survey for the Cabinet Office (PDF) found that 41% of those who had stopped volunteering had done so because they did not have enough time.
Likewise, a 2009 poll by the Hansard Society asked people who did not feel that they have an influence in decision-making - but who wanted to be involved - what was stopping them. Some 40% cited lack of time as the main reason.
But is the issue really lack of time - or lack of time management?
Certainly, it is hardly surprising that people blessed with an abundance of free afternoons and a lack of financial pressures - that is, those who tend to be both older and better-off - find it easiest to be good citizens.
One recent study (PDF) concluded that those who participate in local decision making "generally are more likely to be white, older, better educated, richer, middle-class males" while volunteers were typically "women, of higher social grades, in managerial positions, degree educated, and middle aged".
However, there are many who face the normal pressures of work and family - yet still manage to devote hours each week to their communities.
Finding time for a big society
|Jenny Wood||Patrick Hall|
PA, 46, of Hoddesdon, Herts, volunteers for Girlguiding UK
Rail signaller, 34, of Scunthorpe, Lincs, volunteers for Samaritans
In an extremely busy week I'd give up six hours on a Saturday and three evenings for two hours each - usually it's not as much as that, but it's just a question of balancing and prioritising.
My family will always come first - I have three children. But I know what a positive impact I'm making on these girls' lives and that's what drives me.
Essentially, you've got to love it. There's no point doing it otherwise. If you're not enjoying yourself, the girls won't be having fun.
I'm very fortunate because my family are very supportive - my husband is a volunteer canoe lifeguard, so he understands. And I think my family has got so much out of it because we've met such a wide range of people.
I think the big society is a good idea. There are always people who can come forward and help their communities.
However, there needs to be more recognition of what they do. Too often parents do not understand the word "volunteer" and believe that we are actually paid.
Guiding is something I've given a lot to, but I get so much back from it as well.
My job involved a 24-hour rota, and I do most of my volunteering at night - typically, three or four hours a week.
Obviously, the Samaritans always need someone to be there to pick up the phone and it's more convenient for me.
It's a very straightforward way to make a big difference. You're listening to people who are going through very distressing episodes in their lives and it really does help them.
People say they don't have time to volunteer, but if they sit down and think about it they probably do. Most of us spend a couple of hours a week not really doing anything.
The main thing is that you have to be realistic about what you can manage. There's no point taking on more than you can cope with.
When my partner met me I was already volunteering so it's never been an issue between us. Everyone around me has always been supportive and that's crucial.
I think there's always been a big society out there. There's so many people doing so many wonderful things.
Marketing executive, 26, from London, mentors with TimeBank
Computer engineer, 31, of Torquay, Devon, helps volunteer IT scheme
I work up to 10-hour days and have quite a busy social life but I incorporate volunteering into my routine.
I'm not saying it's easy - it's still difficult to fit in.
But the benefits far outweigh the time I spend and it's an incentive to do it. I never walk away thinking it was a waste of time.
I mentor another young adult who is recovering from mental health issues. We meet up once a fortnight for a couple of hours in the evening or longer if it's a weekend.
I've been doing it for nine months and I can already see that I've made a positive difference.
One of the things we've done is build up her comfort levels visiting new places on public transport - it's simple to me and you but for her it's a big deal.
I had a couple of friends and family members who had been affected by mental health issues - I wanted to contribute something.
It's given me a lot of fulfilment and satisfaction. A lot of people sit at dinner parties and talk about causes they believe in, but I'm doing something about it.
The project I'm currently involved with is in Exeter, which is about an hour away on the bus - my car is out of action at the moment.
We got funding from a local charitable trust and were able to provide six computers to a community centre.
This meant we could provide access to the internet as well as things like computer training and after-school groups for kids.
A lot of these youngsters don't have computers at home - as well as giving them something to do, they're learning skills that will help them in later life.
Obviously, all this takes time.
It helps that my wife volunteers at Sure Start centres, so we understand where we're both coming from.
We can divide up childcare between us so that someone's always at home with the kids - it's just a question of being organised.
I don't know what the politics of the Big Society are all about. But I think anything that encourages volunteering and makes the most of people doing things for their community has got to be positive.
Their capacity to volunteer begs the question: how can the government motivate those who are not currently volunteering to do so?
Recent schools of academic thought have suggested that individuals can be gently coaxed into doing so if they are given the right frameworks.
The writer Clay Shirkey has evangelised for the collaborative and collective potential of the web through crowdsourcing.
The book Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, which argues governments need to give people better incentives to do the right thing, has been cited as a major influence on Cameron's Conservatives.
Manchester University's Professor Peter John has been involved in a project to road-test this theory - for instance, increasing book donation in libraries by 22% after publicly displaying donors' names, and attracting 63 volunteers in one community by asking everyone who rang a call centre if they wanted to help out.
"I think it's all about giving people a nudge in a way that recognises how they live their lives," he says.
"Very often, it's not that people don't want to volunteer - it's that they haven't been asked."
Whether the government can successfully harness this approach in its bid to build the big society is, of course, one of the key criteria on which it will be judged.