In the UK, there’s a lot of prestige associated with volunteering. Volunteering counts as work experience in the country, especially if you want to work as a teacher, social worker or lawyer. You can start volunteering with a particular organization or association and eventually enter the job market with your new experience and contacts.
It is also a good way to learn English, because it helps you make progress and teaches you tricks about dealing with certain situations at work. In addition to gaining experience, you will support companies in need of help and you will indirectly integrate yourself a little more into English society.
In other countries, you might volunteer for an organization in order to feel useful to the community or just to help out. Volunteering in the UK is much more than that. Companies like seeing that you’ve spent part of your time in the country working with a charity, on a neighbourhood radio station, or with dogs and cats in a city animal shelter. So it’s important to include your volunteer work on your CV.
Where can I volunteer?
Practically anywhere: zoos, hospitals, nursing homes, parishes, soup kitchens, libraries, media centres, museums, shopping, festivals, national parks… Festivals in particular need many volunteers because of the number of people attending them: in the security area, at information points, at drinks stands…
We’ll leave you with some links about volunteering at festivals and national parks:
Where do I find the information?
Here are the two main websites you can find with information on how to volunteer in the UK:
• Do It (with the motto ‘Do something good today’): Here you will find different volunteering opportunities, depending on your tastes and needs. You just have to enter your post code and the program will tell you the opportunities that you have nearby. There are lots to choose from!
• The official government website: Gov.UK – Volunteering.
On the second page that we just mentioned, you can check who can be a volunteer:
• Everyone can volunteer, although there are organizations that don’t accept children under 16 years. Others have an upper age limit of 80 years old.
• A volunteer is always a caring person, willing to do things without receiving financial compensation in return. The goal should always be to learn, grow and help.
• A volunteer doesn’t receive a salary, but the company may give them food or pay for necessary supplies or services. Money would be used for practical purposes—like transportation expenses—rather than personal things. You must keep your word for the good of the organization or company. You should be as serious and committed as if you were working there as a regular employee.
• Some companies offer volunteering opportunities for Erasmus students (Erasmus Plus Volunteers). These practices are supplied by the European Union, are funded and are a unique opportunity for young people aged between 18 and 30, who can participate in this volunteer program for a period of 12 months.
How I can find volunteer work in my city?
If you want to volunteer in one of the UK’s main cities, you can use these links:
• Volunteering in London: volunteerteam.london.gov.uk
• Volunteering in Bristol: volunteerbristol.org.uk | volunteerteam.bristol.gov.uk
• Volunteering in Scotland: volunteerscotland.net
•Volunteering in Manchester: manchestercommunitycentral.org/volunteer-centre-manchester
• Volunteering in Wales: volunteering-wales.net
You can also find volunteer offers in any city on Gumtree.
Have you done any volunteering in the UK and do you want to tell us about your experience? You can leave a comment on this article or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.