Volunteering in the United Kingdom is a very popular thing. There are more reasons why somebody wants to volunteer but first of all helping each other is an amazing experience and feeling. People choose to volunteer to give something back to the community, to develop new skills or to build on existing knowledge.

If you come to the UK to study, volunteering is also a great opportunity to make friends and build your social life here. It is also very useful if you want to apply for a job later in the UK as you will already have a UK reference that is very important for employers not only in the UK but abroad (probably in your country as well).

Where to find volunteer placements?

There are a lot of opportunities in the UK for volunteers you only need to find the field you want to work in. Here are some good tips how to start:

  • Contact your local Volunteer Centre
  • Check the local noticeboards (e.g. in libraries, schools)
  • Check local newspapers
  • Search the Do-it volunteering database
  • If you are interested in local communities contact Community Service Volunteers
  • If you are looking for something with specific skills (e.g. marketing, accountancy, law, event management) you can register with Reach
  • If you are 16-17 check the website of the National Citizen Service
  • If you are 50 or older you can take part in the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme
  • If you want to volunteer in Wales you should contact Volunteering Wales
  • If you want to volunteer in Scotland you should contact Volunteer Scotland

You can get a volunteer placement in the non-profit or for profit sector as well. You might also heard about the following charity organisations that are always looking for volunteers in the UK:

  • Save the Children UK
  • British Heart Foundation
  • Cancer Research UK
  • MacMillan Cancer Support
  • The British Red Cross Society
  • The Salvation Army
  • Marie Curie Cancer Care
  • World Vision UK
  • WWF UK
  • Barnardo’s
  • Children with Cancer UK

Volunteer’s rights

As a volunteer you won’t have a contract of employment but you will usually be given a volunteer agreement. This agreement will explain you:

  • The level of supervision and support you’ll get
  • What training you’ll get
  • Whether you’re covered under the organisation’s employer or public liability insurance
  • Health and safety issues
  • And any expenses the organisation will cover during your time as a volunteer

You won’t be paid for your time as a volunteer however you may get money to cover some expenses (e.g. food, drink, travel).

Events related to volunteering

There are a couple of events throughout the year you can join and ask your questions.

Established in 1984, the Volunteers’ Week is a long-standing, popular event in the voluntary sector and is the biggest celebration of volunteering in the UK. The Volunteers’ Week is held in June across the UK. If you want to get involved in England you should contact the NVCO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations).

If you are studying in Bournemouth and want to know more about volunteering you should visit the following events:

  • Volunteer Open Event
  • GCF Climate Week Volunteers Fair
  • BCVS Training