Wessex Community Action supports charities and voluntary groups through training, guidance and representation. This monthly volunteering column looks at all aspects of volunteering and how people can give up their time for the benefit of their communities.

There is a myth that volunteering means committing to giving up hours and hours of your time and one of the reasons many people decide against it is that they think they are too busy.

But an increasingly popular form of helping your community is ‘bite-sized’ or ‘micro’ volunteering. Charities and voluntary groups welcome volunteers who can only commit to a one-off piece of work or a very limited time, which could be just an hour or so weekly or even monthly, to take on jobs that free others up to concentrate on more time-consuming tasks.

There has been a marked increase in ‘virtual’ volunteering – work that can be done remotely either online or by phone – which really lends itself to people who want to help but can only commit a limited time. Research by NCVO has shown it now accounts for 31 per cent of all volunteering, taking on tasks such as writing letters, emails or grant applications, filing, bookkeeping, checking compliance or organising rotas. It means less travelling time and being able to fit the work in when it suits the volunteer.

Shona Tomlinson, a project lead at Fighting Hunger with Food Waste, is looking for a volunteer admin person to help the charity, which collects food from around 150 supermarkets and food producers to distribute to more than 1,300 a week across north and west Wiltshire.

“We need someone to file all the receipts online that we get when we collect food so that we know where the food has come from in case there is a recall,” says Shona. “It only takes a few minutes a day or no more than an hour a week. It’s a small job really but it would make a massive difference to me.”

The huge advantage of virtual volunteering is that it can be done anywhere, so volunteers are not restrained by having to do work locally and can take up opportunities that meet their interest. It is also idea for people with disabilities, without transport, living somewhere isolated or with little time to spare.

An ideal place to look for such opportunities is Wiltshire Together, Wessex Community Action’s online portal. It is a free and easy to use community platform for voluntary groups and charities to advertise their services and support as well as community events and activities and for people to search for volunteering opportunities. The site now has a new Volunteering in Wiltshire page.

Wessex Community Action is developing a Volunteer Centre for Wiltshire. To find out more and to register interest in volunteering, please contact Sarah Pickering at volunteerdev@wessexcommunityaction.org.uk for information.

Contact Shona at Fighting Hunger with Food Waste at shona.fightinghunger@gmail.com