Volunteering is like a date not a marriage and being flexible is the future

By Jim Connolly
Newsbeat reporter


Finding time to volunteer is the main reason people don't do it. But treat it like a date, not a marriage, we're being told.

TimeBank found work was the main reason people find it tough to help out.

Research has found around 58% said it was the biggest barrier even though the charity says organisations are "learning to be more flexible".

"Today's volunteers aren't looking to marry you," it says.

"They simply want a date and to see where it might lead to."

media captionI like having a way of getting involved without committing to something

We've been out with GoodGym in Bristol, which gets people running as a group to help local projects.

GoodGym happens in 23 different towns across the South and West of England.

We went with them to a community farm in the city.

Tom and Wade are 19 and friends from the University of Bristol.

"We like getting out here and helping around a city that we're not originally from," Wade explains.

"It's only an hour or so a week, so it doesn't get in the way that much and it's a great way to stay in shape," adds Tom.

image captionTom and Wade use the scheme to stay fit and help out

Emily is 24 and likes combining her fitness routine with helping others.

"I like to use my run and do a bit of volunteering at the same time," she tells Newsbeat.

"I figure that I am going to be running anyway because I like it so I think why not do something good."

image captionGetting the lunges in before chopping brambles

TimeBank is a charity that organises volunteers for a range of projects.

Helen Walker is its chief executive and she thinks there's now a new breed of volunteers.

"I think it can be hard to volunteer," says Helen.

"I think people give up quite easily and I think what we as a charity sector do is make it as easy and flexible as possible, so that people don't give up at that first barrier."

Sophie reckons flexible volunteering is the way forward.

"It's the future of volunteering. It doesn't feel like it's an actual commitment. You can give it a miss one week if you're too busy."

Recently we brought you the news about a "dramatic" rise in the number of 16-25s volunteering.

Figures show 2.9 million people across the UK made the effort in 2015, compared to 1.8 million in 2010, a 52% increase.

If you want to add to that number you can volunteer for Radio 1 and 1Xtra's million hours campaign.

Many of the people we met on the night said helping out made them feel great, but said it wasn't always easy to fit it around work.

"It's like a perfect post work thing, wake yourself up after being in the office all day," Alice, one of the runners, tells Newsbeat.

"At the same time you are helping the community out and feeling great at the same time."

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