Want to Volunteer?
Volunteering is simple. It is about giving your time to do something useful, without getting paid (apart from expenses).
In return you get the satisfaction of time and effort well spent. In addition, volunteering can be a great way to: increase your chances of gaining employment in your chosen field, increase your self-confidence, benefit your learning, get ideas for your dissertation, make useful contacts that can help in your career, meet new people, learn new skills or gain useful experience. It should also be fun!
The range of voluntary posts are huge. Whatever skills and experience you have, there is something that you can do. The best way to see what is available is to browse our website.
The biggest problem for many people is finding the time to volunteer. It can reduce your choices if you do not have much time to spare, but many busy people do find suitable volunteering. Again, have a look on our website and see what is on offer.
There are no age-limits on volunteering, but there can sometimes be difficulties for over-65, mostly for insurance reasons. If you have any concerns, ask the organisation that you are applying to. Once you start volunteering you should usually expect: payment of out-of pocket expenses (eg travel), a clear idea of what your role will be, appropriate training and support. If you are not clear about anything, do not be afraid to ask someone.
Millions of people in this country already volunteer, but many more are needed.
Top Ten Tips
Hints to help you start volunteering.
- Think about what you want from volunteering.
- Think about what you have to offer - enthusiasm, work skills, life skills?
- Work out roughly how much time you have to give.
- Think about what you could be doing as a volunteer.
- Browse! Use MetTemps.
- Narrow down.
- Ask for our help, if you need it.
- Remember that everyone can volunteer - whatever your skills.
- Ask questions - don't be shy about asking questions.
- Just try it.
The Volunteer Centre Network is made up of numerous local Volunteer Centres throughout England. Their primary purpose is to get more individuals to volunteer in their local area.
What are Volunteer Centres?
The six core functions of a Volunteer Centre are to:
- Match both individuals and groups interested in volunteering with appropriate voluntary work in the local community;
- Market volunteering by stimulating and encouraging local interest in volunteering and community activity;
- Promote good practice in working with volunteers to all volunteer-involving organisations. They deliver training and accreditation for potential volunteers, volunteer managers and the volunteering infrastructure;
- Work in close partnership with statutory, voluntary and private sector agencies as well as community groups and faith groups to develop local voluntary posts. Volunteer Centres understand the potential offered by the local
- communities and work with them to realise this potential. Volunteer Centres will target specific groups which face barriers to volunteering. They work creatively to develop imaginative, non-formal work for potential volunteers;
- Identify proposals or legislation that may impact on volunteering. It will lead and/or participate in campaigns on issues that affect volunteers or volunteering. Volunteer Centres campaign proactively for a more volunteer-literate and volunteer-friendly climate;
- Inform strategic thinking and planning at a regional and national level.
The Volunteer Centres most local to the University are:
For a full list of other London volunteer centres, see below.
All of our online volunteering posts are in London. If you want voluntary work elsewhere:
Information and voluntary posts.
Information and voluntary posts.
Campaigns and information.
There is an extensive listing of voluntary work outside the UK in our useful websites section below.
If you already live overseas, other useful organisations include:
Volunteering placements across the USA.
Register to volunteer in Canada.
Volunteering in Australia.
Volunteering in New Zealand.
Volunteering around the world.
Sometimes you can't rely on anyone else.
Sometimes you are the only one with the passion, the energy and the determination to address a particular problem. Sometimes you just have to do it on your own.
While there are hundreds of thousands of organisations across the country that involve volunteers, you might feel that the issue you care most about is not currently being tackled.
Perhaps there is a problem in your local area - a lack of facilities for young people, for example.
Or perhaps you are concerned about the closure of a hospital, or the building of a new road, or the treatment of asylum seekers.
Most charities start with someone caring so much about something that they decide to do something about it. And there's no reason why you can't do the same, however much it seems that the odds are stacked against you.
The sexy name for people who reach out themselves is social entrepreneurs. People who set up projects or organisations. People with the verve and determination to plug a gap that other people haven't even noticed. They are like Bill Gates or Richard Branson - only they get stuff done for people rather than profit.
There have been social entrepreneurs for as long as there has been society but the term itself is a recent invention.
Now there are websites aimed at them (try CAN, a registered charity trading as a social enterprise and is committed to helping other charities and social ventures thrive, grow and maximize their impact) and even special courses to train them up (The School for Social Entrepreneurs).
Where to Start
It probably makes sense to put some effort into finding out about people and organisations who share your concerns before storming ahead on your own.
You might find that there is a group you can join, and that combined efforts stand more chance of success. Equally, you shouldn't assume that the relevant authorities will necessarily be opposed to what you are trying to do.
For example, if you have an idea for reducing crime in your neighbourhood, the local crime prevention officer (c/o your local police force) will be only too pleased to hear. And even if you do feel that you're going to have to start from scratch, there are lots of organisations which can offer you advice and support.
Citizens Advice Bureaux are another good source of help. You can find your local one from the Citizens Advice website.
And if you really want to go the whole hog and set up your own charity, you've got lots of reading to do at the Charity Commission website!
Volunteers with disabilities
If you are unable to find a voluntary post that interests you on or through your local Volunteer Bureau, please contact us so that we can meet with you to try to find something to suit you.
It’s your choice as to whether or not you disclose your disability - to us or to the organisation - but telling us gives us the opportunity to see how it might be possible to support you more effectively. It’s also a great way to help raise the organisation’s awareness and understanding of how to involve disabled people as volunteers.
If you’re on Job Seekers Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance, you can still volunteer, so long as you do not receive any payment other than your out-of-pocket expenses.
If you have any concerns about volunteering or any other part of your University experience, please contact the University’s Disabilities & Dyslexia service.
MAKE YOUR VOLUNTARY WORK COUNT…. TOWARDS YOUR STUDIES!
Are you a second or third year undergraduate in the Guildhall School of Business and Law?
Did you know your volunteering experience could count towards your degree, if you take the Work-Related Development Module?
To accredit your experience (through the Learning Through Work Module) your voluntary work needs:
- 100 hours involvement which can be accumulated as soon as you register your interest in the module and have the activities approved with Placements & Employability Unit (even a year before registering the module with the Student Hubs)
To find out more about the module, please contact the module leader Vanessa Airth (email@example.com) or come into the Placements & Employability office.
You can find more voluntary work by using any of the links and the information provided on these pages or by looking in local or national newspapers. It may be that you decide that you want to work with a charity that, for example, you have seen advertising in a local paper for volunteers. It's absolutely fine for you to find your volunteering experience this way but, if you do decide to apply to a charity not currently linked to the University, please let us know as we may be able to assist with your application and may wish to discuss with the organisation the possibility of advertising other volunteering roles in the future. Moreover, we cannot vouch directly for these organisations so please ensure for your own safety, that you research the organisation and the role fully. We may be able to help with this if you have any concerns.
We do not actively promote international volunteering as we exist to connect students to their local communities whilst they study here at LondonMet. Also, we have no way of checking the credibility of international recruiters. We do have a list of recruiters below, but we stress that we’ve not verified the quality of their programmes, and ask students to think very carefully before committing to international volunteering.
Below is a list of organisations, loosely grouped according to their specialisms. Remember they are not directly affiliated with the university and you should follow our if you're keen on volunteering with any of them.
International development/human rights
www.actsa.org Works in support of peace, democracy and development in South Africa.
www.afford-uk.org Connects UK-based African organisations with mainland African civil society organisations.
www.bond.org.uk A network of voluntary organisations working in international development.
www.cafod.org.uk Catholic fundraiser, promoting long-term development and poverty relief.
www.commonwealthgames.ca Strengthens sport within Canada and the Commonwealth by participation in the Commonwealth Games and uses sport as a development tool.
www.developmentinaction.org Promotes global citizenship and an understanding of development issues by placing volunteers in India.
www.idealist.org A portal for everyone interested in non-profit organisations and issues, non-profit careers, and volunteering.
www.itdg.org Practical answers to poverty, sustainable solutions and people focused.
www.oneworldaction.org They work with their partner organisations and influence decision-makers to change policies that affect the poorest communities.
www.oxfam.org.uk Involved in emergency response, longer-term development programmes and campaigning.
www.peacebrigades.org A non-governmental organization (NGO) which protects human rights and promotes non-violent transformation of conflicts.
www.redcross.org.uk Helps people in crisis, responding to natural disasters, conflicts & individual emergencies.
www.redr.org Volunteers are employed in office-based general administration tasks in training, recruitment, operations and fundraising.
www.righttoplay.com An athlete-driven international humanitarian organisation, using sport and play as a development tool.
www.savethechildren.org.uk Fights for children in the UK and abroad, suffering from poverty, disease, injustice and violence.
www.spw.org An international development charity working in eight countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
www.unicef.org.uk Protects children and their rights by providing services and supplies and helps to shape policy agendas and budgets.
www.vesl.org Volunteers for English in Sri Lanka was set up to provide children at rural Sri Lankan schools with the opportunity to gain from enthusiastic and creative native English speakers.
www.vso.org.uk An international development charity that works through volunteers.
www.womankind.org.uk Helps women in developing countries to have a distinctive say in what goes on in their family, community and country.
www.yap-uk.org An International movement for justice, peace and human solidarity.
www.elc.org.uk The Environmental Law Centre offers a range of internships on various projects related to medicine, science, health, environment, law, IT, computers and the Internet.
www.charityithelp.org.uk CITA provides services to help charities be more effective through their use of technology.
Computer Aid International The world's largest non-profit supplier of computers to developing countries recruits volunteers with the technical skills required to test and refurbish them.
www.elc.org.uk The Environmental Law Centre offers a range of internships on various projects related to medicine, science, health, environment, law, IT, computers and the Internet.
www.tcv.org.uk Britain's leading conservation charity.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk a charity protecting historic houses and gardens, forests, beaches, farmland, islands, archaeological remains, castles and nature reserves.
www.waterways.org.uk Voluntary workers helping to restore waterways and canals.
www.amnesty.org A worldwide movement campaigning for internationally recognised human rights.
www.caat.org.uk A broad coalition of groups and individuals in the UK, working to end the international arms trade.
www.jubileedebt.org.uk is an organisation calling for trade justice, debt cancellation, and more and better aid.
www.survivalinternational.org is an organisation helping tribal peoples to defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.
www.globaljustice.org.uk Tackles the underlying causes of poverty.
University Volunteer Policy
Volunteers are recognised as a major resource by London Metropolitan University and make a vital contribution to the university. The time, energy and skills offered by our volunteers benefit the university and help us to achieve our aims. Volunteers will only be used where it is appropriate and where roles have been specifically designed for volunteers. They will not be used to replace paid staff. Volunteering in the context of this policy is an unpaid activity where an individual student gives their time.
London Metropolitan University will encourage, develop and support volunteer involvement as important stakeholders within the university community. We hope that our volunteers will enjoy their involvement and gain from it in terms of their own personal goals.
What YOU can expect:
- Support, supervision, training and advice when preparing to volunteer and when volunteering.
- To develop and share your skills and experience.
- Information about Job Shop volunteer opportunities, training, workshops and events, and other relevant volunteer information that should be as up to date as possible.
- A choice of quality volunteering opportunities.
- Able to decide when you want to volunteer and how much time you would like to give.
- Know the nature and content of any volunteering before placement and what is expected of you.
- Volunteer in a safe environment.
- A fulfilling and enjoyable volunteering experience where you will develop self-confidence and learn new skills.
- Able to claim reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of your volunteering upon production of receipts though this depends on each organisations funding.
- Receive recognition for the effort you make.
- Be insured whilst volunteering and be informed of any legal issues, especially those relevant to your project.
- Job Shop will endeavour to resolve any problems you encounter appropriately and efficiently.
- Able to say ‘no’ to any tasks you don't feel comfortable with. You will never be expected to volunteer more time than you feel able to. Also, academic commitments will be taken into account.
- Be treated fairly in accordance with Equal Opportunities policies. Not be excluded on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, religious belief, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age or disability - an open access policy will be actively encouraged.
- Should you ever be unhappy with a staff member, a co-ordinator or another volunteer, Grievance procedures are in place. These may be discussed with your project co-ordinator or a member of staff who will help you.
- Similarly, in the unlikely event that formal action has to be taken against you due to misconduct please refer to the Student Misconduct policy in your Student Handbook or in the case of staff your Employee Handbook.
- Be able to withdraw from volunteering or change projects with reasonable notice.
- Job Shop strives to continually review the service provided based on your experiences and feedback.
- Your personal details will be treated as strictly confidential in line with relevant data protection legislation.
- Email enquiries shall be replied to as soon as possible or within 2 working days from receipt of the email (excluding weekends). If a query cannot be resolved or answered immediately, we will acknowledge the email and inform you when you can expect a full response.
- We will provide four quick query sessions per week.
We expect YOU to:
- Adhere to Job Shop policies at all times whilst volunteering.
- Share your skills and experience with others.
- Undertake a DBS check if required for the specific volunteer role.
- To regularly check email for correspondence in relation to your volunteer activity.
- To register with the university via an online system and submit references as required.
- Act within the policies and regulations of the external placement organisation with whom you volunteer.
- Be reliable and clear about the commitment you can give and stick to it.
- Attend appropriate training sessions and meetings, and to assist us in arranging suitable times.
- Act as a representative for Job Shop and the University - be professional, mature and sensitive.
- Respect and understand the needs and wishes of other volunteers, Job Shop co-ordinators and staff. Please support your fellow volunteers to the best of your ability.
- Inform Job Shop staff if you are experiencing any difficulties with your voluntary work or if you need any further support.
- Inform Job Shop staff if you wish to withdraw from a project.
- Treat others fairly and in accordance with Equal Opportunities policies. Not to exclude anyone on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, religious belief, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age or disability.
- Speak up if you feel your rights are not being respected.
- Speak up if you see potential danger and never put yourself or others at risk.
- Respect the confidentiality of others - but don’t promise to keep a confidence unless you’re sure that it’s appropriate.
- Confidentiality of information will be adhered to at all times, unless directed otherwise by your organisation's policies and procedures.
- Keep Job Shop informed of any changes to your contact details or availability.
- Give Job Shop feedback to improve the service it provides.
Students from outside the European Union
London Metropolitan University strives to offer volunteering opportunities suitable for all students however there are certain exceptions where your choices may be restricted because of the limitations within the UK Visas and Immigration rules.
Students holding Tier 4 student visas are not allowed to work (paid or unpaid) more than 20 hours per week during term time.
This means you could take part in a combination of paid and voluntary work as long as it doesn't exceed 20 hours per week. For example; 5 hours volunteering (unpaid work) and 15 hours paid work = 20 hours.
Students can engage in (paid or unpaid) work full-time outside term time. For undergraduate students this is clearly defined, however for Postgraduate students, this would very much depend on the course programme.
If you hold a Student Visitor visa you are not allowed to take part in on-going volunteering activities however you can get involved in one-off activities and Job Shop staff can advise you on the opportunities that are available to you.
If you need further advice about the conditions of your visa and working or volunteering please contact the International Student Advice service within London Metropolitan University at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02071333317
Use of ex-offenders for volunteer roles will be looked at on a case-by-case basis in relation to the previous offense(s) and relevant DBS check.
Relationship between London Metropolitan University and its Volunteer Workers
The relationship between London Metropolitan University and its volunteer workers is entirely voluntary and does not imply any contract. This agreement is binding in honour only, is not intended to be a legally binding contract between us and may be cancelled at any time at the discretion of either party. Neither of us intends any employment relationship to be created either now or at any time in the future.
Revised April 2016
Frequently Asked Questions
Voluntary work is working without payment (or working for minimum expenses, i.e. travel/food costs), for a not-for-profit organisation, such as a charity or a school.
The sector is made up of a mix of organisations, ranging from small local community groups to large, national, multi-branch organisations, some which are direct service providers and some fundraisers and grant givers. However, they will all have certain key features in common. They will:
- Be value led, i.e. they will have been established with the objective of addressing a social need, rather than simply to provide a service or generate revenue
- Be non profit making, or will reinvest revenue for the purpose of serving their client group or achieving their objective
- Generally use volunteer staff in some way (often relying heavily upon them)
- Not be under direct political control (although they must comply with all UK legislation, they cannot be controlled or adversely influenced by government)
(Source: Charity People)
There is no correct answer for this one. Different people volunteer for different reasons and no one reason is necessarily more valid than the next. Here are just some of the reasons our students choose to volunteer:
- enhance their CV
- learn new skills
- make a difference
- improve things/help people
- give something back
- to meet new people and have fun!!
Well, pretty much everything. From large National/International charities to local community groups, there are thousands of organisations seeking volunteers to perform various roles, either on an ongoing basis or as a one-off activity. The only limitation to the voluntary work that we promote is that we ONLY work with the not-for-profit sector. Register to find out more.
This really depends on the time you have to offer, but will need to be agreed, in advance, with the organisation with whom you volunteer. Some volunteers commit to an ongoing commitment, of perhaps 1-3 hours a week, over the course of a term or academic year, whilst others are able to sign up to a full-time commitment, such as a gap-year placement through an International charity. If your time is more limited, or you work full-time, you can volunteer in the evenings or at the weekends, or participate in one-off activities.
We do concentrate our efforts in the communities immediate to the University's North and City campus, but can help you to find something elsewhere, if you'd prefer.
Obviously your academic work must take priority but, as long as you have the time, there is nothing to stop you volunteering for more than one opportunity. It's a good idea to start with one and see how you get on, before taking on the time commitment of another as, obviously, it's best to avoid starting something and then have to drop out because you're finding it difficult to manage. However, some people do successfully volunteer for 2 different roles, perhaps ½ day a week providing administrative support to a busy local charity and one evening a fortnight mentoring a young person. Neither takes an excessive amount of time and both can develop your skills, as well as enrich your life.
This is not something that we can guarantee and you should never start some voluntary work with the assumption that this will happen but there have been instances where keen and reliable volunteers have found paid work in the organisation in which they have volunteered.
Well...it all depends! In some cases, it's fairly simple to find something that relates directly to a specific course; in others, the voluntary work might not relate so obviously but will, in fact, provide you with fantastic, relevant experience and enhance job-related skills, such as the way that you interact with people, and manage your time and workload, etc.
Do some research. Even people who think they know what they want to do can change their minds once they're aware of the range of voluntary work out there. Read through our guidance on what to think about when choosing voluntary work and then register to see what's available. If you'd like to volunteer in a field related to your course or to your proposed future career, it might be an idea to speak to a University Careers Consultant or to your course tutor, either of whom should be able to recommend activities/roles, which might enhance your skills and experience. If you'd like to speak to us at any stage of this process, come along to a drop-in session.
When approaching the organisation you should ask to speak to the Volunteer Manager/Coordinator, if no other contact name/job title has been supplied. They should be able to answer any general questions you have about the role and tell you how to apply.
The application process could simply be an informal chat over the phone or face-to-face, or could require you to complete an application form and provide references, and, in certain cases, complete Disclosure and Barring Service check.
Unless the organisation is looking for someone with specific skills or experience, they will want to check, at the first meeting they have with you, that you have the basic skills required for the post so remember to act appropriately. If may be an unpaid placement but treat it like an interview: dress smartly, don't be late, show that you know a little about the organisation and the role on offer, and sell yourself.
It's also worth remembering that, while some organisations accept all volunteers who apply, others have selection processes so there can be competition for a volunteering position just as there is for a paid job. If you are unsuccessful the first time, don't be disheartened - there are many other voluntary posts available!
We work with both staff and students at the University and have supported volunteers in placements including:
- marketing an eco-friendly product
- act as the main coordinator for software development/business development
- promoting understanding between faith-based communities in London
- teaching the use of the computer to the elderly
- help first year junior school students do their homework
- talking to children, painting, increasing their creativity
- communication co-ordinator for university society
- wheeling elderly ladies through an exhibition at the V&A
- taking care of people with learning disabilities
- conversing with someone who wanted to improve their English
- mentor to a group of year 7 students to encourage them to plan to go to university
- general looking after of animals and maintaining their environment
- talking to secondary school students about Higher education prospects
- helping blind or visually impaired people take part in activities they normally wouldn't do
You will not be paid for the time that you give to volunteer. Some organisations cover reasonable expenses incurred as a result of volunteering, such as transport costs and lunch.
Many potential volunteers have other obligations (work/study/home) that limit the time that they are able to give but still find that they are able to learn new skills and gain valuable experience through their volunteering - whether it be a one-off activity or a weekly/fortnightly commitment of a couple of hours.
Depending on the length of involvement, many volunteer-involving organisations can provide references for volunteers. Again, depending on how much contact we have had with you, we may be able to write a reference and/or provide recognition of the time you have given to volunteering.
Most voluntary work does not require formal qualifications although some may request particular skills/experience. All those undertaking volunteering will have, at least, an induction session to introduce them to the work and to the environment in which they will be placed. Where necessary and appropriate, the organisations offering the opportunity will provide training.
Again, this can vary, but generally you should expect:
An induction where you find out more about the organisation and its policies
- To be told who your supervisor is and how to contact them
- To have adequate training to be able to carry out your role
- To have ongoing support and supervision
- To have out-of-pocket expenses covered (e.g. reasonable travel expenses).
All of the University's partner organisations offer new volunteers an induction programme and appropriate training, where training is required. Some volunteers are also able to benefit from the opportunity to participate in the staff-development sessions offered by the organisation at which they work.
We will endeavour to ensure that you are placed in an activity and organisation in which you will be happy by spending time identifying the skills and experience that you have and those that you are hoping to gain, as well as establishing in what kind of environment and over what period of time you would like to volunteer, before matching you to available voluntary work. However, there are no obligations for you to continue if you are unhappy or if your personal/work situation changes to an extent that makes volunteering impossible. The important thing is to let us know of any problems, as we may be able to intervene and help, and to ensure that you give the organisation as much notice as possible if you do have to stop.
Anyone wishing to volunteer on a project that involves working with children or vulnerable adults will need to apply for a Disclosure and Barring check.
Applicants will be provided with a form to complete, after which the volunteering organisation overseeing the project will meet with you to check various forms of personal ID (guidance will be provided on both the completion of the form and the types of ID required). The form is then sent to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), where your details will be checked against the Police National Computer system. If you have a criminal record it will be stated on your disclosure certificate, 2 copies of which will be sent out, one to you at your home address and one to the university or volunteering organisation.
The clearance process can take some time and, although there are organisations willing to take on volunteers whilst the check is in progress (as long as they are never left unsupervised), others insist on the clearance being received before the volunteering starts. Therefore, it's a good idea to complete the form as soon as possible after you decide you'd like to take part in an activity for which DBS check is deemed necessary.
Please be aware that some volunteering activity is subject to visa restrictions, and it is your responsibility to ensure that you adhere to these. For further advice, please contact the International Student Advice service at email@example.com or call +44 (0)20 7133 4186.