You’ll be one of earth’s mightiest heroes! Unless that’s copyrighted.
Volunteering might be the world at its absolute best. Volunteering has people give up their time for other people and things because other people and things need their help. It’s easy to cut a cheque for charity if you can afford it but giving your time and effort and energy – giving whole chunks of your finite lives – and doing it for free, that’s some solid do-goodery right there.
If we’re looking to improve the world, volunteering is one of the ways we’ll do it. We’ll see a problem – like littering – and do something about it – like joining a squad of litter pickers, and move other people’s rubbish from the streets to recycle bins. That’s how volunteering works. It’s based on very simple moral mathematics:
Climate breakdown + You volunteering for Greenpeace = Better world.
Homelessness + You volunteering in a hostel = Better world.
Gender-based violence + You volunteering for Rape Crisis = Better world.
Lousy politics + You volunteering for a decent candidate = Better World.
A world of problems + You not volunteering = The same unbearable shovel of shit we live in right now.
There are some rewards for volunteers, of course, even if not the material kind that capitalism has taught us to lust after and kill each other for. Volunteering brings a pleasant tingle to your conscience-bone. It ups your self-righteousness by a smug factor of seven. It can get you a ton of skills and experience, and a taster for possible careers if you find something you fancy. And it guarantees a primo spot in heaven and non-Christian heaven alternatives, or a properly stacked body in the event of reincarnation.
In the UK, you can look for volunteering opportunities at NCVO, Volunteer Scotland, Volunteering Wales, Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland), Time Bank, Timebanking UK, Do It and Volunteering Matters. If you’re internationally minded you can volunteer abroad with VSO, Latitude Global Volunteering and Go Overseas. In the US you can find opportunities at USA.gov, Volunteer.gov and Volunteer World. And if you’re elsewhere in the world you can use a non-evil search engine to find something for yourself. I can’t do everything for you people. At least not for free. What kind of a sucker do you take me for?
Go do it!
You'll actually, properly help people
The world will be slightly better!
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Like most of you, when I first saw WALL-E I assumed it was a documentary and was relieved to find we had at last discovered a solution to the madness of short-term landfillery. However, on attempting to contact and marry EVA, Pixar security guards informed me not just that I would be charged with breach of the peace but also that the film was a work of speculative fiction.
Devoted as you are to yer man The Zero, and as closely as you monitor my good works, you’ll be aware I do the odd bit of fundraising in spite of hating it almost completely. The past few years I’ve been meddling with Yaknak Projects, a small charity set up by a few friends to run two children’s home in Nepal. They need £16,000 a year to keep the homes running, a delightful spot of constant pressure that cheers them greatly.
As you’d expect from a man in my position, I have literally thousands of children. The groupies that gather at the foot of Zero Towers are as fertile as they are up for it, and the rise of my master race is progressing nicely. Sadly, due to the sheer size of my collective progeny, all of whom are disabled rad-fems, I am unable to support any of them financially or emotionally, thus creating twice as many social problems as I was hoping to solve.
So there I was a few weekends back, minding me own business, spending a reasonably pleasant day in the company of friends, or at least people paid to be friendly towards me on account of how my fame prevents anyone getting too close, when I witnessed what can only be described as a road traffic accident, being as how it was an accident involving traffic that took place on a road. I won’t lie to you: it was full on proper scary.
With the Olympics all done with and the Paralympics prepping itself for interest considerably less feigned than usual, it’s time to reflect on the heroes at whom we marvel, the champions who capture our hearts, the icons who inspire a generation. Jessica Ennis. Usain Bolt. Me.
That whooshing sound round the back of your head was February going past us and past me and past this blog in particular. Being as how I’m spending my days chained to the desk writing essays and my nights chained to the desk drooling on them, the old do-gooding has taken a back seat of late. Unless you count the social work. Which no one does. Tell people you want to be a social worker, they make like you’ve offered them a glass of cancer flavoured piss.
The problem with this social work lark is although I’m getting stuck in to solid gold do-gooding on a daily basis, the confidential nature of it all means it ain’t worth shit for blogging. I go out, I do good, I come home, I write essays, I use every drop of energy and I’ve got on non-blogging activities and meanwhile this place gets neglected and cobwebbed and dusty and forgotten, going all potty and Miss Havisham and playing bridge with Buster Keaton.
You’ll recall how last year I finally worked up enough balls to give up a safe job in the middle of recession and go back to uni. And how I’m now training as a social worker, taking my meddler status from amateur to professional. You’ll recall all of this because you are, in the act of reading this blog, engaging in the last legal form of stalking. You’re watching me from afar, waiting for the right moment to ask for an autograph, tell me you’re my biggest fan, or take me to your underground den of torture and have me as your bride.
They say the word ‘hero’ is overused these days, applied to anyone who kicks a ball into a net or resists the metric system or rescues orphans from a burning paedophile ring. But I’d argue in some cases the word ‘hero’ is not used enough. I’m thinking particularly here in the case of me.