Volunteering can be a great way to contribute to a cause you feel really passionate about, or to gain experience in a particular field.
But even if you don't have anything specific in mind, you're likely to stumble across an opportunity that's both enjoyable and enriching, simply by checking out what's happening in your area. You could end up getting involved with a local youth group, running community sports sessions, hosting tea parties, gardening, counselling, marketing, translating...
The list goes on. In a place like London, the opportunities for volunteering are almost endless. So how to match yourself up with the right one?
Two of the best websites designed for this purpose are Do-it and Timebank. Both allow you to search for volunteering roles according to your location, interests and availability. Or if you'd rather speak to someone in person, you can visit your nearest volunteer centre.
Not sure about making a long-term commitment? There are lots of one-off opportunities to volunteer as well. Many involve helping at a particular event, such as a festival or fundraising walk or run. Or why not combine volunteering with a weekly workout at one of BTCV's Green Gyms.
You can even volunteer while taking a holiday, on a BTCV conservation break. The National Trust similarly runs working holidays, with opportunities ranging from gardening and conservation work to leading family activities.
And finally, an article on volunteering in London wouldn't be complete without mentioning the big 'O' - not Oxfam (although I would recommend popping in to see if your local shop needs any assistance), but the Olympics. You can volunteer to help make things happen during the 2012 Games or in the run-up, or apply for a Changing Places grant to fund your own project to improve your local community.