New app launched to get more Londoners volunteering

07 January 2016

The Mayor Boris Johnson today witnessed first-hand the impact that speed volunteering is having on lives across the capital, as he launched a new app – the first of its kind in the country – to make it easier for more Londoners to become volunteers.

As London begins its year as the European Volunteering Capital, Team London, the Mayor’s successful volunteering programme, has launched a unique, free app, which matches volunteers with local speed volunteering opportunities, making it possible for busy people to commit a small amount of time to suit their schedules. The app has been created in response to research that found 59 per cent of people are deterred from volunteering because of lack of time due to work commitments.*

The Mayor today met GoodGym speed volunteers, a team of runners who keep fit at the same time as doing good in the community. GoodGym receives funding through the Mayor’s Team London initiative and the Mayor joined them at The Passage homeless charity in Victoria to help clear away Christmas decorations and clean up the centre’s communal areas. 

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “As we start our year as the top city in Europe for volunteering, I urge Londoners to make it their New Year’s Resolution to join our volunteering revolution. Team London has created an incredible volunteering legacy for the capital, and through this new, free app, it is now easier than ever to use a little of your spare time to make the city an even better place to live in.”

GoodGym is just one of over 80,000 volunteering opportunities available in London, with activities that include befriending older Londoners, planting trees and working with young people. Some of the many varied opportunities currently offered via Team London’s website include creating social media content for education charity WORLDwrite, maintaining ponds and wildlife areas at Sutton Community Farm and teaching people to read and write at homeless charity Providence Row. 

Partnership Manager at GoodGym, Ed Field said: “Funding from Team London has allowed us to massively expand what we do. We've been able to offer more GoodGym sessions to more people than ever before, bringing hundreds of new Londoners into volunteering all across the capital. London has such a rich community of voluntary organisations doing great things for the city and so we are always looking for new runners to meet their demand. You don't need to be an experienced runner or commit long term, just turn up, give a helping hand and get fit at the same time. Why not join us?”
 
As well as Team London funding for GoodGym, the Mayor is also providing funding for The Passage, London’s largest voluntary sector resource centre for homeless and vulnerable people. The charity, which helps up to 200 men and women every day, has received £381,780 through the Mayor’s Homelessness Change and Platform for Life programme. 

Mick Clarke, CEO of The Passage, said: “The Passage welcomes the Mayor’s leadership in encouraging more people to get involved in volunteering within their local communities. The Passage has a 4:1 volunteer to staff ratio and we simply could not deliver our diverse services, which enable so many people to end their homelessness for good and get back into employment and society, without the support of hundreds of volunteers, including those from the GoodGym initiative.”
 
London was named the best city in Europe for volunteering 2016 at a ceremony last month, beating off competition from 10 other rival cities. The city scooped the title of European Volunteering Capital 2016 in recognition of the innovative programmes the Mayor has developed as a legacy of London 2012, when volunteering took centre stage at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Since then, the Mayor’s volunteering initiative Team London has mobilised over 120,000 active volunteers including 60,000 school children and young people. 

Notes to editors

1.    The Team London speed volunteering app can be downloaded from the iTunes app store by searching for ‘Team London’. The app will be available on android soon. To find out more about speed volunteering, visit https://speedvolunteer.london.gov.uk/ 
2.    Team London led the successful bid for London to be named European Volunteering Capital 2016 with support from local volunteer centres and Greater London Volunteering. 
3.    The European Volunteering Capital Competition is run by the European Volunteer Centre and aims to promote volunteering at a local level by giving recognition to municipalities that support and strengthen partnerships with volunteer centres and celebrate and promote volunteering and the impact made by volunteers. The 11 candidate cities were: Belfast, Bruges, Cagliari, Cascais, Edinburgh, London, Lucca, Perm, Rome, Varese and Viterbo. To find out more, visit www.cev.be. 
4.    Team London is the Mayor of London's ambitious programme to mobilise an army of volunteers across the capital. The aim is to improve life in London through programmes that will reduce crime, increase opportunities for youth and improve quality of life by cleaning and greening London and building stronger neighbourhoods. Team London promotes volunteering opportunities for nearly 1,600 charitable organisations, runs a wide range of programmes to support young people and third sector and has worked with over 100 London businesses in the last year to recognise the importance of volunteering for their staff and the next generation through the Mayor's Corporate Commitment. Over 60,000 schoolchildren and young people are now active volunteers in London thanks to the Mayor’s Team London Young Ambassadors volunteering programme, which is inspiring young Londoners to engage in social action, both in their school and the local community.  For information about volunteering opportunities in London go to http://volunteerteam.london.gov.uk @teamLDN
5.    *According to an independent survey, 59 per cent of potential volunteers are deterred from volunteering because they feel they do not have sufficient time due to work commitments. People also cited home and family responsibilities, caring for elderly relatives, or studying, as other reasons for not getting involved. (Data from 2015 Citizenship Survey: http://data.ncvo.org.uk/a/almanac14/what-are-the-barriers-to-volunteering/)
6.    Team London recently awarded GoodGym an innovation grant, enabling the charity to open three new groups in Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark, expanding upon the nine groups already set up across the city. GoodGym was also granted £100,000 from the Mayor’s Sports Participation fund to roll out their successful model more widely across London over the next two years. To find out more visit www.goodgym.org 
7.    The Mayor also granted The Passage £25,000 this year as part of his services to help prevent rough sleeping, and has met with its clients and volunteers to discuss how its  ‘Home for Good’ project supports former rough sleepers to sustain their accommodation by matching them with a volunteer from the local community. To find out more about The Passage and its services, visit www.passage.org.uk