We’d all love to give our communities a little more love. But when you’ve got kids or you work full time, it’s not always easy to get started.

That’s why we spoke to Amanda. She typically works a 60 hour week and still has time to give something back. Here’s her advice for giving #BagsMore with less time…

1. Smaller charity = bigger flexibility

“Ever since I started working after university, I’ve looked for volunteer jobs,” says Amanda. “I’ve been on training afternoons with the Samaritans and all sorts of other amazing organisations, and loved it.

“The problem is that with bigger organisations, your hours are very fixed. They need you at certain times, and those hours don’t always coincide with your working life.

“But with a smaller local organisation, everyone’s in the same boat. I’m one of three directors at my local market, and all of us have full-time commitments – whether it’s kids, a PhD or a job. We all share the responsibility, which allows us to be much more flexible.”    

2. The best route in isn’t always the most obvious

“I moved to my town because it had an active, supportive and involved community. I used to visit the market every week – it’s what drew me to the area – so I knew a lot about it and wanted to get involved.

“However, there were no positions available on the team that ran the market, so I became a trader instead. Having my own stall opened up so many more opportunities, and when the time came for another director to come on board, I was there to help out.” 

3. If you can’t find a group that suits your needs, set up your own

“Lots of people in my area set up their own volunteer and support organisations. It’s a great way to do valuable work. If you set it up yourself, you can adapt your organisation to fit around your own lifestyle, and the time you’re able to commit.”

4. Treat it as a hobby

“You have to stay committed, so you have to be strict with yourself” says Amanda. “That’s why every other Tuesday, I make sure that I leave work on time.

“I see it as a hobby. Some people leave work early to go to the gym, but I’d much rather have a market meeting! Either way, it gives you a healthy balance in life. I always say it’s the yin to my yang…”

5. And remember, you’ve probably got the best of both worlds…

“I really enjoy it, so I’d love to do it full time as my job. But if we got paid to run the market, it would have to turn into profit-making business, not a community investment organisation. It would change the essence of what we do. This way, the market keeps the community at its heart. Which is better for everyone.”