10 ways to be a micro-volunteer

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You don’t have to give up a whole day – or even a whole hour – to make a difference. Share these ideas with your young people, for whenever they’ve got a spare few minutes to help make the world a better place


Words: Kate Evans | Illustrations: Pádhraic Mulholland


1. Donate some of your toys and books

In just a few minutes, you can have a look around your bedroom for any toys that you don’t play with any more, or even free gifts from magazines or fast-food restaurants. Bag them up and your parents can donate them to a charity shop, to raise money for a good cause. Books are always popular second-hand purchases, too.


2. Pick up rubbish

Your local area will look so much better if you spend five or 10 minutes clearing up litter. Remember to wear protective gloves and be careful of any sharp edges. If you go out in a group it’ll be more fun, and you’ll achieve much more in a short time – you could even have a competition to see who can fill their bag with the most rubbish in 10 minutes. Don’t forget to recycle as much as you can when you get back – sort out any plastic bottles, glass, tins, cans and paper, to limit the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill. 


3. Do a mini beach clean

Next time you’re on a trip to the beach, spend a few minutes picking up plastic and other rubbish to help the environment and make it nicer for others visiting the beach. In 2018, the charity Surfers Against Sewage helped to organise 1,747 beach cleans – large and small – and more than 70,000 people picked up 117,076kg of rubbish that could otherwise have ended up in our oceans, damaging marine life.


4. Entertain your local toddlers 

Feeling creative? Write a short story that’s suitable for young people aged three or four. One of you could write the story while others draw pictures to help tell the story. You could then take it to a local playgroup or nursery for staff to read to them. 


5. Fund a mammogram 

In under a minute you can visit thebreastcancersite.greatergood.com/clicktogive/bcs/home and click the banner advert. At no cost to you, the companies listed on the page then pay the site for your visit. So far they have raised enough money to pay for 27,202 mammograms, which screen for signs of breast cancer.


6. Make a minibeast hotel 

It’ll only take a few minutes to gather up some small rocks or stones, twigs, dry leaves, moss and pine cones from around your garden or in a park to make a home for insects. If you’re at home, you could also use old plant pots. The best minibeast hotels are made from as many different materials as possible, of varying sizes, so that creatures of all types can find somewhere safe to shelter. Bear in mind: they like rotting bark to eat, and remember to add a roof to keep your wildlife friends dry. 


7. Run errands 

If you have elderly family members, pop over and ask if there are any little jobs you can do while visiting with your parents or guardians. You could offer to sort out their recycling and put their bins out, walk their dog or feed their pets, do some shopping, or just sit and chat to them. 


8. Use your green fingers

If there’s a friend or neighbour who has restricted mobility, give them a hand with their gardening. If you’re old enough you could offer to mow their lawn, pull up weeds, carry bags of garden waste to their recycling bin or even help cut back branches of shrubs and trees.


9. Donate to a food bank

Lots of families in the UK rely on foodbanks to help them have enough to eat. If you’re able to, find out what items your local food bank is most in need of and when you’re next doing the food shop, drop a few things off. 


10. Help someone on the street

For just a few pounds, you can buy a hot drink or some hot food for a person sleeping rough. Some food apps, like Wriggle, allow you to buy a hot drink for someone in need at the quick tap of a button.

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