Volunteering is exceedingly popular among Brits, with almost two-thirds of Britons having volunteered in 2019 and 2020 and 41% volunteering once a month or more. In a country where people value community and come together with the “Blitz Spirit” when facing a crisis, like the 7/7 London bombing or Covid-19, it’s no surprise.
Volunteering isn’t always about giving back to the community, however. Sometimes, volunteering can help you develop the soft skills and hard skills you need to grow professionally.
Plus, having volunteer experience can help you write a CV that shows employers your job-relevant skills and experience.
Whether you volunteer to gain work experience or for the sheer enjoyment of it, your volunteering will make a valuable addition to your CV work experience section.
Here are some of the most popular volunteer opportunities near you and how to find them:
1. Animal volunteer opportunities near you
As Brits like to say, “dogs are man’s best friend,” which explains why so many people want to volunteer with dogs and other animals. Here are some organisations that offer valuable ways to volunteer with animals:
Volunteer with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) if you’d like to take on one of a myriad of roles, such as:
- Caring for sick animals
- Transporting animals to RSPCA centres or veterinary practices
- Fostering animals temporarily
Find your perfect role volunteering at the RSPCA online using your postcode.
Volunteer for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), where you can perform a wide range of tasks, including:
- Bird care
- Signing up new members
- Designing graphics for campaigns
Find your ideal RSPB volunteer opportunity by searching for roles with your postcode.
Batty about bats? Sign up to volunteer for the National Bat Helpline with a team dedicated to conserving bat roosts and helping members of the public care for injured bats.
Guide Dogs for the Blind
If you love pooches and want to help vulnerable members of society, why not volunteer for Guide Dogs for the Blind? A variety of roles are available, including:
- Fostering future guide dogs
- Supporting people with visual impairments
- Raising awareness
- Organising events
Simply pop your postcode in on their site to find volunteer opportunities in your community.
A simple option is dog walking. You should be able to find a local Facebook group where you can offer to walk dogs for people at work or with mobility issues.
2. Opportunities for volunteering with children
If you’re passionate about helping children, there are plenty of opportunities to support healthy child development and education or charities that work to provide children with needed resources.
Childline (0800 1111) is a freefone phone service that children can call to discuss any problems they have, including family, relationships, school, drugs, or friendships. Most of the volunteers for Childline work as trained counsellors answering calls, online chat messages, and emails.
It’s a big commitment because of the amount of training involved, so you’ll have to undergo a DBS check and pledge to volunteer for Childline for at least 1 year.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is always looking for volunteers and have a huge range of roles you can find by entering your postcode. Opportunities range from helping out with craft lessons and organising poetry competitions to showing kids classic cars and setting up football matches for children.
If those don’t sound like a good fit, you can also volunteer for the NSPCC as a fundraiser, treasurer, social media champion, or board member.
Barnardo’s offers similar volunteer opportunities. You can:
- Help young asylum seekers learn English
- Mentor a child one-on-one
- Run a youth group
- Help facilitate local play schemes
There are also plenty of office-based administrative positions if you’d prefer to play a supporting role. If you’re in school and 14 years old or over, you can also volunteer for Barnardo’s to meet Duke of Edinburgh award requirements.
Action Tutoring provides tutors all across the UK, but especially in more disadvantaged communities. You’ll help pupils with learning and doing their homework. Currently, Action Tutoring is only looking for in-person tutors in:
- The Wirral
If you aren’t available for in-person tutoring due to your location or schedule, you can also volunteer with Action Tutoring to be an online tutor wherever you are in England and Wales.
3. Mental health volunteering in your area
Volunteering to assist people with mental health conditions relieves a lot of pressure on the NHS, so you’ll have the thanks of doctors, nurses, and other NHS staff.
If you want to support mental health locally, one option is to volunteer at a Mind shop. Mind is dedicated to providing advice and support to those struggling with mental health issues and campaigning for greater awareness and service improvements.
Volunteering at a Mind shop can involve organising and pricing clothing, using your sales skills, or creating beautiful displays. All proceeds from Mind’s charity shops go to mental health services and supporting them. Not only does volunteering benefit the community, but there are also advantages for volunteers, including:
- A 25% shop discount on donated items
- A free membership
- Evidence for National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)
- Retail experience
Consider joining the Samaritans, who are dedicated to preventing suicide by providing support, guidance, and tools for people facing crises. The Samaritans offer a 24/7 freefone suicide hotline and also offer listening services for any other mental health crises.
You’ll undergo training if you’re ready to become a listening volunteer and will also have access to counselling if you need help coping with the problems you hear about.
Anxiety UK is an organisation dedicated to providing relief and rehabilitation for people struggling with serious anxiety disorders and seeks to promote greater awareness of anxiety.
If you choose to volunteer with Anxiety UK, you can:
- Become a Helpline volunteer, supporting callers with anxiety (using your own phone or laptop)
- Be a National Participation Group Member, accomplishing tasks such as product reviews, attending events, responding to media inquiries, or providing feedback for the organisation
- Volunteer as a therapist if you’re qualified
Volunteers benefit from discounted Anxiety UK membership and therapy sessions.
4. Local volunteering with refugees opportunities
With an increase in the number of migrants crossing the Channel and the Russo–Ukrainian War in full swing, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer with migrants. Here are some ideas:
Help Ukrainian refugees
If you’d like to help provide shelter for Ukrainian refugees, you can register with the government to offer a home or a spare room to migrants.
If you already know a Ukrainian migrant to whom you’d like to offer housing, you can help sponsor their visa instead.
Help refugees from Afghanistan
Register with the government to support Aghan migrants by providing:
- Support settling into life in the UK through the Community Sponsorship scheme
The Refugee Council
Volunteer with the Refugee Council. Their volunteering opportunities include:
- Organising workshops and job fairs
- Tutoring newcomers in English and other subjects
- Working with minority communities (LGBT+, women)
Welcome refugees to Glasgow
Are you in Glasgow or the surrounding areas of Scotland? Consider volunteering with Refuweegee.
Refuweegee volunteer duties include:
- Preparing welcome packages for refugees in Glasgow, including essentials like bedding, nappies, and non-perishable food items
- Stocking the shop
- Giving tours to new arrivals
- Providing childcare (for PVG-checked volunteers)
- Writing ‘letters fae a local’ to welcome people to Scotland
Refugee Action offers volunteer opportunities across the country to help refugees integrate into life in the UK. Some example roles include:
- Mentoring job seekers to write a cover letter and CV and answer interview questions
- Mentoring refugees through the job-seeking process, helping them set goals and find opportunities to gain relevant experience
- Tutoring refugees with some basic skills like IT and English
Refugee Action offers both remote and face-to-face volunteer opportunities and requires you to commit to six months of volunteering.
5. Healthcare volunteer opportunities near you
Volunteering in health care allows the NHS to allocate more resources to patients in need, so any help you can give helps keep health care accessible for everyone.
Here are some ideas for health care volunteer opportunities near you:
The Red Cross & St John Ambulance
The Red Cross and St John Ambulance both offer opportunities to learn First Aid and work on an ambulance crew.
The Red Cross also has a network of charity shops where you can volunteer, and — if you have foreign language skills — you can volunteer as an interpreter.
Royal Voluntary Service
Volunteers in the Royal Voluntary Service primarily work in NHS hospitals. You can fulfil myriad roles, such as:
- Manning hospital shops and canteens
- Driving patients home
- Providing patients with a friendly conversation if they’re confined to their sickbed
- Greeting visitors and patients at the hospital entrance
There are also opportunities to volunteer with the NHS that vary widely. Here are some ways you can volunteer:
- Youth volunteering (for 16- and 17 year-olds) offers young volunteers a chance to gain some experience in the healthcare field
- Joining the NHS Cadets (if you’re 14–18 years old)
- Volunteering with your local hospital or ambulance trust
- Volunteering with an organisation that supports the NHS
Check with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations or Volunteering Matters to find volunteer opportunities near you.
6. Volunteer opportunities for teens and youths
If you’re a young person who wants to volunteer in your community, there are plenty of things you can do, and it’s great for your CV because it shows employers that you have the skills they’re looking for. It can also put you ahead of other candidates who have similar qualifications when you’re applying for uni.
Here are some volunteering ideas:
Duke of Edinburgh award
Volunteering is one of the four elements of the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award, and your DofE co-ordinator will even help you organise a volunteer placement.
Working with animals
If you’re interested in working with animals in the future, contact your local vet’s practice or animal shelter, such as the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London.
Working in politics
If you’d like to change your community — and your country — consider running for the UK Youth Parliament. As a candidate for the Youth Parliament, you’ll write a manifesto aimed at young people in your local area, run for election, and represent your community, campaigning for the issues you were elected on by meeting with government officials and your local (adult) representatives.
Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs) also meet in the House of Commons chamber in Parliament to debate issues relevant to young people once per year.
Youth Hostel volunteering
If you enjoy socialising, consider volunteering at a local Youth Hostel. You’ll be able to choose from tasks including greeting guests, organising events, maintaining the garden and buildings, and preparing and serving meals.
7. Lab volunteer opportunities near me
Volunteering for lab research can help researchers make valuable strides in fields like disease prevention and treatment. You may want to volunteer in this area if a loved one has been affected by a condition like cancer.
If this is something you’re passionate about, here are some ways to get involved near you:
Anthony Nolan, an organisation that performs research into blood cancer, is seeking volunteer lab assistants. As a volunteer, you’ll be working 4-hour shifts entering data from samples, so you’ll need good organisational skills and some basic IT skills.
Get in touch with local universities, many of which are seeking lab volunteers. For example, the University of Bristol is seeking laboratory efficiency volunteers, while the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Forest Research is looking for research volunteers.
Each university is likely to have different needs for volunteers, so you’re likely to find any specific roles you’re seeking if you look hard enough.
8. Opportunities for football volunteering near you
About 1½ million people volunteer for their local football teams across the UK. Here’s how you can join the excitement and get involved:
England Football volunteering opportunities are broken down by club or role. So if you’re a Darlington FC fan, you can find volunteer opportunities there, or if you want to be a coach, ref, or groundskeeper at any club, you can find everything you need on England Football.
If you’d rather just see volunteer opportunities at your own club, most clubs have their own volunteer pages, so whether you’re a Man City or Man United fan, or a Magpies, Gunners, or Wolves fan, there are always opportunities to get involved.
If you live in London, check the London FA database of volunteer roles to find opportunities across the capital.
9. History volunteering opportunities
Interested in history or just want to help preserve the UK’s wonderful national heritage? Here’s how:
If you live in England, you can volunteer for English Heritage. Type in your postcode to find suitable local roles near you. Positions can include:
- Guiding tours
- Greeting visitors
- Maintaining old buildings, including castles, churches, and cathedrals
In return, you’ll receive free English Heritage membership and entry.
The National Trust
The National Trust and National Trust for Scotland offer various opportunities to volunteer. For example, you could help photograph and geocache the natural environment, become a volunteer beekeeper, or be a costumed greeter at a Roman fort.
Museums near you
If you love developing and sharing historical knowledge with others, reach out to local museums and galleries for unique volunteering opportunities.
For example, the British Museum seeks volunteers to catalogue items, give tours, and develop learning programmes for visitors.
10. Music volunteering opportunities near me
If you’re interested in volunteering in music, you have tonnes of options to choose from:
Music in Hospitals and Care
Music in Hospitals and Care volunteers put together or support music performances for young and old hospitalised patients and people in care.
Volunteer with Help Musicians to visit and support older musicians or musicians with disabilities in their homes (you’ll need a DBS check before you can do this). You can also help out at festivals and music conferences.
Pubs and working men’s clubs near you
If you enjoy the nightlife scene, and your local pub or working men’s club has live music or a DJ night, give them a ring or pop round and ask if you can lend a hand.
11. Volunteering in the Home Nations
Each of the home nations catalogues and lists ways to volunteer:
If you’re in Scotland, check out Volunteer Scotland to see opportunities to give back across the country.
Volunteering in Wales is easy. Take a look at Volunteering Wales to see roles nationwide, including Welsh-language positions.
The Northern Ireland Government also provides a guide to getting involved in volunteering.