UK Student Life homepage
Study, work or travel in the UK. British culture and life.
A-Z index
BBS Forum
About us
Contact us
< Up
Work / Job / Volunteer
Finding voluntary work in the UK
  Immigration rules
  Finding voluntary jobs
  UK voluntary organisations


Why should I think about doing voluntary work in the UK?

The main reason to consider volunteering is if you enjoy working to help other people.
Doing voluntary work may help you to meet local people and to improve your English communication skills.
You may also gain skills and experience which can help with future employment.
Voluntary work is very well established in the UK. Full-time volunteers are allowed to receive some living expenses.

What types of voluntary work are there?

Some of the possible types of voluntary work include helping children, the homeless, people with mental or physical disabilities, elderly people, or assisting environmental projects.

Working in the Voluntary Sector
Authors: Craig Brown
Publisher: How To Books
Date: September 2002

  Working in the Voluntary Sector
Publisher: Careers and Occupational Information Centre
Date: November 1999

Back to top


The rules about taking voluntary work in the UK are the same as for paid work.

People from the EEA (European Economic Area: this area includes all the European Union countries) can take voluntary work without any restrictions.

If you have a student visa you can volunteer part-time, provided that you work less than 20 hours a week during your school's term-time (you can work up to 40 hours in school holidays).

If you are not a student but wish to do full-time voluntary work in the UK for up to 1 year, you can apply for a volunteer's visa. You can receive travel expenses, a small amount of pocket money, and possibly food and accommodation. You will need a letter from the charity that you will work for, and you will need to prove that you have enough money to live.

For more details of immigration rules, see:

Back to top


- Volunteer Database

To find volunteering opportunities near where you live, search the National Volunteering Database at: Enter your postcode, and choose the type of work you want to do. The places which are nearest to your home will appear first.

- Volunteer Bureau / Centre

To find out more about local volunteering opportunities, you may want to visit your nearest Volunteer Bureau (VB) in England or Wales, or your nearest Volunteer Centre (VC) in Scotland. You can find this using UpMyStreet: Select Find My Nearest … , enter a postcode or town name, select Find by category and choose Charities & advice then Charities & voluntary organisations. The nearest ones will be listed first.

Information may also be obtained from the regional websites of the volunteer bureaux or centres:
Northern Ireland:

- Timebank

TimeBank is a charity which runs volunteering projects and matches UK residents to volunteering opportunities. Note that you must already be living in the UK. For further information, see:

- Volunteer Fairs

Forum 3 is an annual fair in London which is attended by many voluntary organisations. Members of the public can go to find out about volunteering opportunities in the UK or other countries. See:

Back to top


The following national organisations help to promote voluntary work, and provide further information about volunteering on their websites:

England: National Centre for Volunteering:
Scotland: Volunteer Development Scotland:; Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations:
Wales: Wales Council for Voluntary Action:
Northern Ireland: Volunteer Development Agency (Northern Ireland):

For information about voluntary sector training courses / qualifications, see:

You may wish to contact a charity or voluntary organisation directly. A few of the larger voluntary organisations in the UK are listed below.

(Community Service Volunteers):
CSV accepts volunteers aged over16 for full-time volunteering for between 4 and 12 months. Among the people supported by CSV volunteers are children or adults with physical disabilities, learning difficulties or mental health issues. CSV also has projects working with young offenders and homeless people.
Free accommodation is provided, together with food and a weekly allowance. You will need to complete an application form, give two references and attend an interview. If you are a UK or EU national and are living in the UK you can apply directly to CSV. If you are not from the EU or living outside the UK you will need to apply through one of CSV's international partners, details available on their website.

Vitalise (formerly known as the Winged Fellowship Trust):
A national charity providing breaks for disabled and visually impaired people and their carers. Through five accessible UK Centres, Vitalise is able to provide over 6,000 breaks annually. Volunteers look after the guests, providing whatever physical assistance is necessary (for example: pushing wheelchairs, helping people to get ready in the morning, or assisting at mealtimes). Communication with the guests is an important part of the job, so good spoken English is required.
Free accommodation and meals are provided.

The National Trust is a charity working to conserve coastal and countryside landscapes, historic buildings and gardens.
To find out about how to apply as a volunteer, see:

The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) have opportunities for volunteers to help run and maintain their youth hostels.

BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) organises projects to help the environment:

IVS (International Voluntary Service) organise short term international workcamps, usually lasting about 2 weeks. Examples of projects include environment, work with inner city children, or people with disabilities, or renovation projects. Accommodation and food are provided, but there is a charge to be paid. See:

Barnado's works with the most vulnerable children and young people, helping them transform their lives and fulfil their potential. Volunteers help by taking part in fundraising activities, working in Barnardo's shops, or by taking part in projects which support children's welfare:

Details of all the charities which are registered in England and Wales are held by the Charity Commission:

Back to top


Home page: Home

Back to top

© UK Student Life 2002-2007

* Search this website ( or the web: