What can I do?
There are many opportunities for volunteering today, whether you want to make a commitment to something you feel strongly about, give something new a try or just have a few hours to spare to carry out a one-off task. Below are some of the popular areas for volunteers.
Top Tips to help you start volunteering
- Think about what you want from volunteering - new skills, fun, a chance to contribute to a cause, etc.
- Think about what you have to offer - enthusiasm, commitment, passion, etc.
- Remember that everyone can volunteer - whatever your skills, experience or background you should be able to find an opportunity.
- Ask questions - don't be shy about asking questions as you go through the process of applying for an opportunity.
- Just try it - often the most difficult part of volunteering is making the first move, so be brave!
Types of organisations offering volunteering
PDSA is Britain's leading veterinary charity - for pets in need of vets. Have fun whilst helping PDSA to help sick and injured animals.
RSPB - if you are interested in using your skills to protect Britain's birds, contact RSPB.
Arts and Heritage
The Voluntary Arts Network (VAN)
Arts groups run by volunteers with roles ranging from administration to fundraising to performing and directing.
The National Trust works to preserve and protect the coastline, countryside and buildings of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Make your community a safer place.
Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network volunteers co-ordinate meetings and activities to make the areas where they live safe, friendly and pleasant places to be.
Every day, thousands of passionate and committed people give their time to engage and motivate people in the criminal justice system, working hard to turn their lives around. Volunteers add expertise, capacity and flexibility to services, working in a wide range of roles, People with lived experience also volunteer. They provide valuable advice on what works, and offer peer support.
Her Majesty's Courts of Justice include both civil and criminal courts, and are responsible for administering justice.
Magistrates sit in courts in their local area to hear criminal cases and help solve disputes. Magistrates will listen to the evidence, decide if the person is guilty and decide on a punishment. Bench clerk volunteers work within the magistrates’ court, taking notes about sentence types and length to support Probation Officers.
Special Constables volunteer alongside police officers and have full police powers, including the power of arrest. Specials may get involved in all different elements of policing, including tackling anti-social behaviour, crime prevention, raids and warrants, special events, football matches, missing person inquiries, and road-traffic accidents.
Police Support Volunteers work alongside the police and special constables, supporting the work they do, but do not themselves have police powers.
Volunteer Police Cadets are aged 14 to 19 and get involved in a range of activities to support the police. They wear a uniform and may take part in crime prevention initiatives, emergency services exercises, or assisting safer-neighbourhood teams with events or community engagement.
Independent custody visitors visit police stations to check on the welfare of people in custody. Visitors play a vital role in raising standards in custody and the fair treatment of detainees.
Prison Visitor Centre volunteers give advice and information to visitors or provide practical help with running the centre, which might include making sandwiches or drinks.
Play project volunteers provide entertainment for children visiting the prison. Prisons can be a daunting place for children, so playing games, reading a book or painting a picture can help make the experience a more positive one.
The Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) has more information about these volunteer roles.
Independent monitoring board members monitor day-to-day life in their local prison to ensure proper standards of care and decency are maintained. Board members work together as a team to raise any matters of concern and to provide an independent view on the running of the prison.
Other useful information includes:
Clinks is an umbrella body for voluntary and community organisations that work with offenders.
Victim Support volunteers
support victims of crime, accompanying them to police stations or to
court, giving them valuable support and assistance. Victims of crime may
need someone to talk to, information on police and court procedures and
assistance with completing compensation forms.
Health and Social Care
Most NHS hospitals have their own Voluntary Services Manager, who will be responsible for recruiting, training, supervising and supporting the volunteers in the hospital. To find out more contact your local hospital.
The British Red Cross gives skilled and impartial care to people in need and crisis at home, in the community, UK and overseas. In the UK their primary purpose is to support statutory services by providing care in crisis situations.
Home-Start is a national charity that recruits and trains volunteers who support families with children under five by visiting them in their own homes.
St John Ambulance teaches people first aid so they can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. They provide first aid at events and have support roles in fundraising, PR, volunteer support and logistics.
Reach Skilled Volunteers helps voluntary organisation access the skills and support they need to be successful.
Charity Trustees: NCVO has details of vacancies for charity trustees. These are the people legally responsible for the overall management and decision-making in a charity.
Micro-volunteering is about doing small, short-term voluntary actions that benefit a good cause, usually in less than 30 minutes.
Marie Curie Cancer Care have a micro-volunteering programme that allows people to help without the need for applications, training, or ongoing commitments.
young people with volunteering opportunities and has a
micro-volunteering page allowing people to make a real impact from the
comfort of their own home.
Sports clubs provide the best opportunities to offer volunteer help to your favourite sport. Volunteer roles include coaching, administration, refereeing, driving and management.
English Federation of Disability Sport works to increase and improve opportunities for disabled people in sport. It has a range of volunteering opportunities through its regional and event networks.
Join In aims to help sports clubs and community groups in the UK capture the enthusiasm for Olympics and the Paralympics by hosting special community events.
Sport England is a Sports Gateways online database of local and national sporting contacts.
VSO provides international volunteering placements based around four development areas: health, participation and governance, secure livelihoods and education.
Youth / children
Scout Association provides volunteering opportunities to suit various skill sets and availability.
vinspired connects young people with volunteering opportunities.
Youth Action is an award-winning young people’s charity providing a wide range of services to young people aged 8 to 24.
Environment and Conservation
Canal & River Trust is a new national charity entrusted with the care of 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales. There is a wide range of volunteering opportunities available including outdoor environmental improvement, heritage conservation, education and promotion.
TCV is the UK’s largest practical conservation charity, annually involving 130,000 volunteers in projects to protect and enhance the environment.
Friends of the Earth campaigns for the protection of the environment and proposes alternatives to environmentally damaging policies and practices. It has a network of over 250 local groups, all of which rely on volunteer help.
Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens - City Farms and Community Gardens are local projects working with people, animals and plants. They depend on volunteers for their survival and development.
There are some volunteering opportunities that are online.