Help Text Santa by helping others

Click here to find out what opportunities there are in your local area.
The New Year is here, a time when we often want to make resolutions to help others. But finding that perfect match that fits your lifestyle can be tricky.

But we've made it easy to get started and find out what's up your street. By clicking this link you can search for local volunteering opportunities on the UK’s largest volunteering website powered by ‘Do-it’. You’ll be surprised just how much there is to do right on your doorstep!

By browsing for opportunities in your area you'll also be helping Text Santa's three amazing charities. The Government will give £5 for each of the first 5,000 people who search for volunteering opportunities by the 8th of January.

So don't delay! Take a look on what's up your street today and help make a difference in so many ways.

#GivingTuesday

The 1st December is #GivingTuesday , the global day that reminds us why it’s good to give. We’ve again joined together with the UK Government to celebrate #GivingTuesday by encouraging everyone to donate time or money, to help give hope to those in difficulty at Christmas.

As part of the Government’s support for Text Santa, they will give a £5 contribution to the Text Santa appeal for each of the first 15,000 donations that are made by the public starting from today. And because it’s not all about money, they’ll also give £5 for each of the first 5,000 people who search for volunteering opportunities.

It's easy to get started and find out what's up your street. By clicking this link you can search for local volunteering opportunities on the UK’s largest volunteering website powered by ‘Do-it’. You’ll be surprised just how much there is to do right on your doorstep!

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Looking for inspiration?

The best way to find your perfect match is to dive right in and take a look for volunteering opportunities in your area.

You can volunteer in so many different ways. From traditional volunteering, to simply an hour of your time from the comfort of your living room. The Do-it search engine lists over 1.4 million opportunities across the UK so it's a great place to find out what’s happening in your local area.

As well as finding out what’s up your street, you can also get inspiration from some of the UK’s local heroes who help make a difference.

Liam's Story

Most of my working life has involved working with the public. When I retired I didn’t want all that experience to go to waste. Volunteering for Macmillan allows me to use my experience and those skills in a structured and fulfilling way. Macmillan is now very much part of my life.

I work closely with the local Fundraising Managers. I also represent Macmillan by attending at functions to receive a cheque or to give a talk on Macmillan. I have been given the opportunity to cover a number of different roles on behalf of Macmillan which included our corporate partners, schools, organisations, and helping local committees with their World’s Biggest Coffee Morning event organisation and other fundraising events.

I really enjoy the variety of volunteering for Macmillan. One day I might be collecting outside a supermarket, and the next day giving a talk about Macmillan to anything from ten to a hundred people to raise awareness.

There is also a good team spirit with my local Fundraising Managers, other volunteers and the local committees.

Volunteering brings many rewards; not visible but in terms of what you feel. Giving your time to make life better for other people is the best reward.

You can give money to Macmillan which is great, but sometimes giving time can be even more valuable. We all have hidden skills and talents and using them in a volunteering role can bring a few surprises as to what we are capable of.

Gursharan’s Story

I heard about Make-A-Wish after seeing a feature for the charity on a TV programme a few years ago. Seeing how much happiness granting a wish brought to such brave children was something I really wanted to be a part of.

The best thing about volunteering for Make-A-Wish is being part of something so magical that helps make wishes come true for such amazing children. It has been the most humbling and rewarding thing I've ever experienced – it's almost like being a fairy godmother for the day!

The hardest thing about volunteering is not being able to commit as much time to wish visits and other events as I would like to. I had the most amazing experience when I helped with a bedroom makeover wish. It was the first time I had directly been involved with one and seeing the reactions first-hand of how happy the wish child and her family were with the end result reminded me why I wanted to volunteer in the first place.

I was also part of the charity's 25th Anniversary World Record attempt for the biggest Pass the Parcel – it was great to see how much hard work had gone into making this a success and seeing the reactions of the children who had their wishes granted was great!

If I could have my own wish it would be to visit the remains of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Colin's Story

Colin Cannings is a semi-retired solicitor who, like many of his contemporaries, suddenly find they have time on their hands and work out that there are only so many cricket matches, lunches and fishing trips that they actually want to take part in.

Colin was a long time donor to Save the Children but came along to a supporters’ evening to see if there was anything he could do which was a bit more active than merely filling in a direct debit. Despite the fact that he’d spent the day watching England getting thumped at Lords he offered to help, fully expecting to be asked to stuff envelopes or something equally simple.

It was not to be. Colin was asked to help with Save the Children’s Speaking Out campaign and three years later is the clearing house for talks to schools, businesses and clubs in London and beyond.

Speaking Out gets the message to thousands of people every year and with the unprecedented demand for humanitarian aid throughout the world, requests for talks have increased and the network of 25 volunteer speakers are on course to deliver around 100 talks this year – and this is just the talks that come through head office. There are many more talks arranged direct with branches and supporter groups across the UK.

Why Save the Children? “When you look at all the problems around the world it’s easy to point the finger at governments past and present, dictators, statesmen, corruption - and say it’s their fault. But whoever’s fault it is, it’s certainly not the children’s.”

Chloe’s Story

Chloe has been volunteering with the charity StreetGames at Leeds City College for just over a year. She helps young people with special educational needs to take part in sport, from seated volleyball to curling.

StreetGames brings sport to young people from disadvantaged communities across the country and volunteers play a crucial role. The sports programmes aim to help participants by increasing their levels of participation in sport and confidence while at the same time opening up new education and employment opportunities for volunteers.

Chloe, who is 21, helps to set up sessions, assists qualified coaches to run them and more recently has gone on to take the lead herself.

Chloe can’t speak highly enough about volunteering, emphasising the personal impact it has had on her.

“When I first started volunteering I was shy with new people. As the weeks have gone by, I’ve come out of my shell. I’ve gained more in confidence”. She also highlights how volunteering makes you “feel good about yourself – it gives you a buzz…it’s rewarding”.

Since the organisation’s launch in 2007, StreetGames has helped over 385,000 young people and has engaged approximately 14,000 volunteers.

Kali and Mollie’s Story

Kali and Mollie were brought together through a volunteer mentoring programme and have had a transformative impact on each other.

Kali, a student at Aldridge Community Academy, and Mollie, a volunteer mentor from the University of Sussex, were matched together through the University Student

Mentoring programme run by the charity IntoUniversity. IntoUniversity supports young people from disadvantaged communities to attain a university place or another chosen aspiration. Volunteers play a crucial role in assisting young people, offering tutoring and mentoring to IntoUniversity students aged seven upwards.

Their University Student Mentoring programme partners volunteer university students with young people to work together on tackling academic challenges, thinking about future options and developing social skills. Partnerships just like Kali and Mollie.

The scheme has been a great opportunity for Kali to consider her academic and professional future with someone who has already made the journey to university.

Kali highlights that “I have changed since I had a mentor and she helped me to develop my confidence. I have improved my language since coming here and now I don’t feel shy around people.”

And for Mollie, her favourite part of mentoring has been “getting to know Kali and helping her with her confidence and how to express herself.”

Muna’s Story

Muna received her Points of Light award from the Prime Minister for engaging over 200 women and young people and encouraging them to actively give back to the local community.

Every week day the Prime Minister recognises an inspirational volunteer with the daily Points of Light award.

In 2009, Muna set up an initiative to help women from Hindu, Indian and wider BAME communities take up a greater role in the public and voluntary sector. Muna felt that women from differing backgrounds were often underrepresented and overlooked in this area, and came up with a strategy to overcome this. The support initiative combines philanthropy with socialising for women of diverse cultures and backgrounds, regularly providing mentoring opportunities, networking events and workshops. She also devotes her time to a number of causes including Hindu Council UK, Coventry Interfaith Network and other local, national and international charities.

As well as encouraging others to volunteer, Muna herself has helped raise over £5 million for various international development charities and non governmental organisations, and volunteered for other community organisations such as Myton Hospice and the British Heart Foundation. She is also involved in international humanitarian work, volunteering in countries abroad that have been hit by natural disasters and other crises.

Muna is one of hundreds of people who have now been named Points of Light, highlighting an enormous array of innovative and inspirational volunteering across the length and breadth of Britain.

Aria’s Story

NCS is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 16 and 17 year olds across the country that connects them to each other and to their power to make a difference. It’s a four week experience over the summer school holiday that builds confidence and prepares young people for their journey into adulthood, helping to create a more cohesive, responsible, and engaged society.

After an initial 2 weeks of full-time challenges and activities (in groups of no more than 15 young people), participants develop a social action project that benefits both young people and the communities they live in.

Over 200,000 young people have done NCS so far. One of them was Aria Shahrokhshahi, and his father Farnoosh has highlighted the impact it has had on his son:

“Watching his team come together to create and deliver a community project was a pure joy. They came alive with a sense of purpose, pride and responsibility. And the comradeship between them exists to this day. Aria himself credits the experience with helping to mature his outlook on life, he’s since gone on to become an active member of Nottingham City Youth Cabinet (which he heard about whilst on the programme), and he also went on to exceed all of our expectations in his maths GCSE...”

Why do charities need your help?

Over 90% of charities registered in the UK have no paid staff and are completely run by volunteers, according to a study by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Whatever the size of the charity organisation, volunteers play a vital role in enabling them to make a difference. From specialist skills to general support and fundraising, you’ll be surprised what type of help they need. Below, our three Text Santa charities and campaign supporters explain why encouraging more people to volunteer across the UK is so important’

Macmillan Cancer Support

Joelle Leader, Macmillan’s Volunteering Director says: “I’m constantly inspired by our volunteers. After all, it’s not just time and energy that they add to the mix. They also bring their life experience, their skills, their knowledge and their passion – I never cease to be humbled and amazed by what our volunteers do.

The number of people affected by cancer is set to rise to four million by 2030 and it simply won’t be possible to support them without our incredible volunteers, so that’s why it’s crucial we make it as easy as possible for people to volunteer for Macmillan whenever they want to.

We go all out to make sure volunteers are recruited, supported and developed really well. We hope they will want to keep coming back to volunteer for us again and again, doing a range of different things to suit their lives at the time."

Make A Wish UK

Volunteering Manager Josie Taylor says: “There are currently 20,000 children and young people in the UK fighting a life-threatening condition and over 1,000 of them will turn to Make-A-Wish this year. We want to grant a wish to every eligible child, but we can’t do that without the support of our volunteers. By choosing to donate their time, whether it’s minutes or hours, our volunteers become an essential part of a team committed to bringing hope and happiness to some very special children and their families.

We rely on the efforts of around 500 registered volunteers and countless active supporters, without whom we would only be able to achieve a fraction of what we do.

Our volunteers are often the public face of the charity: making presentations on our behalf; raising money through bucket collections or online web pages; attending events and leading students taking part in fundraising challenges.

But most importantly it is our volunteers who visit almost all of our wish children and their families - at all times of the day, in all seasons and across every part of the UK - to understand a little more about their life and establish what their child’s true wish really is.”

Save the Children UK

Rachael Bayley, Save the Children Head of Volunteering says: “All our volunteers are valued – some drop in to cheer at a fun run, some volunteer every week in schools, others have organised successful events for years. Together every single one of them contributes to make the world a better place for children.

Our volunteers all give us distinctive skills and have varying amounts of time they can spare – but they all care deeply about children, and every single volunteer’s contribution counts towards making a huge difference for children.

People from all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles enjoy volunteering for us, which means that each one brings different experience, skills and ideas; this enriches us as an organisation, and makes a huge contribution to improving life chances for children.

There’s so much that we just couldn’t achieve without the input, enthusiasm and creativity of our volunteers. Some give a few hours at a one-off event, for others volunteering is part of their life over many years – however much money they raise, however much time they can spare, every volunteer helps give children a better start in life."

Cabinet Office

Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson says: "Volunteers are the backbone of communities across the country – unsung heroes selflessly giving their time. So many organisations, from charities to community groups, would be unable to make the difference they do without the incredible support of volunteers.
"Volunteering is also a fantastic way to gain new skills and experiences, and people who volunteer have significantly higher levels of life satisfaction.
"It's easy to get involved, so this festive season why not take the opportunity to find a cause you can support?"

Do it

Jamie Ward-Smith, CEO of Do-it.org says: "Volunteers are the lifeblood of our communities - without them, the many charities and community groups that support the most vulnerable in our society would not be able to function. But we always need more. Everyone has time to offer, whether it’s donating a professional skill, helping out at a food bank or simply providing a listening ear, people like you can make all the difference to someone’s life.

With over a million volunteers needed right now on Do-it.org, you’re bound to find something that you can support, and if you only have a small amount of free time available there are plenty of one off or short term activities to fit around your busy lifestyles.

But it’s not all about the giving. Volunteering your time for a good cause can also be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do, giving you a great buzz, not to mention a unique opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and try out new things. So what are you waiting for? This Christmas donate to the UK the best gift you can possibly give - your time."