I Want to Work in ..... Voluntary Work
Through volunteering, you can enhance your CV, develop new skills, and make new friends.
According to a Time Bank/Reed survey of 200 leading UK businesses:
- 73 per cent of employers would employ a candidate with volunteer experience over one without
- 94 per cent believe that volunteering adds to skills
- 58 per cent say that voluntary work experience can often be more valuable than experience gained in paid employment.
A Student Volunteering Survey found that students gained the following from volunteering
- Satisfaction, sense of reward, achievement and fulfillment.
- Sense of making a difference and helping people.
- Greater self-confidence.
- Improved self discipline and motivation.
- Chance to try new things and to develop and learn new skills.
- Improved communication, interpersonal, team working skills and ability to work independently.
- Meeting new people from different backgrounds and making new friends.
- Being part of the local community.
- Enhanced CV.
- Insight into different working environments.
- Using volunteering experience in job applications and interviews.
- Feeling that there are positive things to look forward to in life.
Here are some quotes from the survey
- "Made me confident and has made me realise the difference I can make."
- "The feeling that you are making a real life difference in the lives of young people and the local community."
- "I now have new career aspirations and the confidence to take forward these new ideas."
- "Feeling of accomplishment afterwards."
- "Meeting new people, doing something that is fun and meaningful."
- "Made me more aware of the difficulties other people go through and made me appreciate the simple things in life."
- "Pleasure, satisfaction and the feeling that I can help somebody."
- "It’s made me a happier person."
Volunteering is an excellent way of gaining career-related experience. Organisations offer opportunities to work with disadvantaged or disabled people, children or the elderly, in the UK and abroad. Charities use volunteers in office administration, fundraising, public relations and research: good experience for careers with these organisations or elsewhere in the public sector or business.
There are about 22 million volunteers in the UK. Voluntary work will improve your skills, boost your confidence, help you make new friends and give you a lift knowing that you are helping others worse off then yourself. Helping others is a good way to help yourself. Research showed that volunteering for a good cause can increase our happiness as much as if we doubled our income. The more voluntary work volunteers did the happier they got and they were also less prone to depression and physically healthier.
Voluntary work is not just available in the "voluntary sector". If you hope to work in the media, work placements with commercial employers such as local newspapers and radio stations are usually unpaid, but are an excellent way of building up skills and experience that will give you a head start in this fiercely competitive business.
A survey by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations found that working as a volunteer was second only to dance as the biggest source of enjoyment."Experience in a charity shop is absolutely considered valuable experience and this would be taken into account."
Graduate Retail Recruiters Forum
The same principle applies to advertising, publishing, political research, etc.: use professional directories such as the Hollis Press and PR Yearbook for contact addresses.
Volunteering in Kent
- Kent Union Volunteering www.kentunion.co.uk/volunteering Volunteer opportunities in Canterbury and Medway, in the University and in the local community, that will help you work towards the Kent Student Certificate for Volunteering www.kentunion.co.uk/volunteering/kscvawards
- Medway Volunteering Facebook page www.facebook.com/medwayvolunteering
- Links to local volunteer organisations from KCC www.kent.gov.uk/community_and_living/volunteering/volunteering_opportunities.aspx
- Kent Libraries runs a volunteering scheme www.kent.gov.uk/leisure_and_culture/libraries/services_for_everyone/volunteering.aspx
- Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust – various volunteering opportunities from hospital shops to occupational therapy www.kmpt.nhs.uk/volunteering
- Kent Police www.kent.police.uk/join_us/volunteering/vol.html
- Kent Wildlife Trust www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk Needs volunteers to help on various wildlife reserves in Kent
Volunteering elsewhere in the UK
- Do-It www.do-it.org.uk search volunteer opportunities by geographical location in the UK: just type in your postcode to find lots of volunteering opportunities within 5 km of where you live. Also information on gap year opportunities overseas.
- Timebank www.timebank.org.uk projects mainly around mentoring and youth-led volunteering – they can help you to set up your own volunteer project!
- Volunteering England www.volunteering.org.uk/IWantToVolunteer links to local volunteer bureaux
- UK Volunteering www.ukvolunteering.org
- Vinspired http://vinspired.com
Residential and gap year volunteering:
You don’t need to go abroad for your gap year! Volunteers in the UK support offenders, young people in need and adults with learning difficulties, as well as helping people with physical disabilities lead more independent lives. Not only is the need to pay for this once-in-a-lifetime experience removed, but volunteers are entitled to free accommodation, food and pocket money. See www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/jun/10/find-work-volunteer for an article on this.
- ATD Fourth World www.atd-uk.org/get-involved/volunteering-opportunities Six to twelve months. Accommodation, work-related travel expenses and up to £65 living expenses are provided.
- Camphill Communities www.camphill.org.uk/recruitment/volunteer-info
- Community Service Volunteers www.csv.org.uk places over 100,000 volunteers every year: no-one is rejected. CSV's full time volunteering programme offers experience in social or health care fields, education and youth justice for those looking for a challenging year out after school or university. Placements are full-time, available for between 4-12 months. You receive free accommodation and subsistence which includes £35 per week towards day to day expenses plus food (or up to £40 per week to buy food) along with relevant training and support. You could be placed anywhere in the UK so you need to be willing to relocate but travel expenses to and from your placement are provided. Open to UK or EEA nationals aged between 16-35 and living in the UK.
- Embercombe –sustainable living charity and social enterprise in Devon. Up to 3 months. www.embercombe.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16&Itemid=152
- Jesuit Volunteer Community www.jvcbritain.org/Jesuit_Volunteer_Community,_Britain/Gap_Year.html
- The Magdalen Project www.themagdalenproject.org.uk/volunteers.php - up to 3 months on environmental education centre and organic farm on the Somerset/Dorset border
“One of the best students we have ever had on the Bar Professional Training Course had spent his gap year working in a hostel for ex-offenders with drug and alcohol issues in Dublin” (Nottingham Law School)
- Pilsdon at Malling Community www.pilsdonatmalling.org.uk/volunteers. A Christian-based community in West Malling, Kent, providing an environment where people can rebuild their lives after experiencing a crisis. Volunteer placements of “six months or so”.
- RSPB Volunteer wardens on 36 reserves throughout the UK for up to 6 months www.rspb.org.uk/volunteering/residential.aspx
- Simon Community www.simoncommunity.org.uk
- AidCamps International www.aidcamps.org Short term volunteer work overseas on development projects
- Cross Cultural Solutions www.crossculturalsolutions.org international volunteer organisation, operating 17 short-term (2-12 week) programmes in 10 countries around the world
- Earthwatch www.earthwatch.org
- Global Volunteer Network www.globalvolunteernetwork.org volunteer opportunities abroad in 25 community projects throughout the world. Volunteers can be involved in teaching English, environmental work, health and sanitation
- Go Volunteer Abroad www.go-volunteerabroad.com offer first-hand reviews as well as articles about all programs abroad. A scholarship is available to any student for any abroad program of their choosing
- Idealist www.idealist.org over 56,000 not-for-profit and community organisations in 165 countries, which you can search or browse by name, location, or mission for volunteer opportunities, jobs and internships
- International Citizen Service www.dfid.gov.uk/ics 10-12-week placements for 18-25-year olds in 27 developing countries, supported by DFID and 6 partner organisations including VSO
- Lattitude Global Volunteering www.lattitude.org.uk long-established youth development charity offering volunteer placments in education, healthcare, community work and conservation in a variety of countries across Asia, Africa, The Americas and Australasia
- Links for Change www.links4change.com Community Interest Company: any profits are required to be reinvested to support our partner charities and volunteers around the world. Fees are much less than other volunteer recruitment organisations. We are able to offer this by keeping our running costs to a minimum and using our network of contacts and previous volunteers to promote our work. Useful resources forn International Development.
- Oyster Worldwide www.oysterworldwide.com Paid and voluntary placements from 2 weeks to 12 months in a variety of worldwide destinations
- Projects Abroad www.projects-abroad.co.uk short or long term placements around the world on projects in Teaching, Journalism, Conservation, Law, Community work, Sport, and Medicine
- Raleigh International www.raleighinternational.orgadventure expeditions in Borneo, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, India and Tanzania. Volunteers work on sustainable and worthwhile community and environmental projects alongside young people from the host country and local skilled workers
- Volunteer Africa www.volunteerafrica.org details of volunteering opportunities in Africa, information on useful books and guides and some questions to ask of yourself and the organisations that interest you. The links page contains a wide range of useful web addresses
- Volunteering Options www.volunteeringoptions.org Volunteering site from Ireland that lists volunteer opportunities worldwide and has developed a code of practice for volunteering organisations
- Volunteer Abroad www.goabroad.com/volunteer-abroad US site with searchable directory of 27000 opportunites worldwide
- Working Abroad www.workingabroad.com international networking service for volunteers and travellers on education, conservation, development and social/cultural projects in over 150 countries worldwide
- Year Out Group www.yearoutgroup.org an association of 35 organisations that aims to promote good practice and to help in selecting suitable and worthwhile projects
One student who was a keen singer wanted to do something to improve her CV. She got the idea of setting up a group to sing songs from fifty years ago at local homes for the elderly, with a few modern songs thrown in for variety.
She visited university music societies to recruit musicians, and soon had over 40 people: enough to form two groups! She then made several bookings for concerts.
She arranged rehearsals, made copies of music and they were soon doing their first concerts. The standard wasn't very high but they more than made up for this with enthusiasm! As the pensioners knew the songs, they were soon joining in. Even non-musicians started coming along to sit and chat with the pensioners.
The word spread round other homes in the area and they became swamped with requests for concerts. When the student applied for jobs, this became a talking point at interview and she received 3 offers of places on graduate training schemes.
Volunteering that doesn't cost a fortune!
Do you want to volunteer abroad but can’t afford to pay thousands of pounds to do so?
Many organisations charge four-figure sums to arrange a volunteer placement. Below, we list some that offer similar placements for a more manageable cost. This does not necessarily mean that the quality of your experience on the placement will be lower – these organisations cut costs by working directly with the project organisers and cutting out the “middle man”. These projects will normally require you to cover your own travel and insurance costs.
- Volunteer Action for Peace: www.vap.org.uk 80 countries. Cost from £150 – 180
- Concordia: www.concordia-iye.org.uk Projects in Western, Eastern and Central Europe, North America, North Africa, Japan and South Korea or Africa, Asia and Latin America. Costs from £150 - £300
- Xchange Scotland: www.xchangescotland.org Over 40 countries worldwide. Cost: £150
- UNA Exchange: www.unaexchange.org “we are usually able to offer projects in more than 50 countries each year”. Cost from £150 - £300
- Ecoteer www.ecoteer.com Ecoteer believe they are one of the very few true ethical and responsible volunteering companies. They have taken out the middle man and over 25% of their projects are free. If you do have to pay money you give it direct to the project.
- Evergreen International www.evergreeninternational.co.uk is a small organisation based in Canterbury that arranges volunteer teaching placements for British Citizens at 'British Cultural Exchange' summer camps in China and semester-long placements in middle and high schools.
- Volunteer Latin America www.volunteerlatinamerica.com Opportunities throughout Central and South America including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru. Projects range from helping street children to monitoring wildcats such as puma and ocelots. Costs range from approx. £50 – 250 per month.
- Volunteer South America www.volunteersouthamerica.net This site lists a large number of organisations offering free and low-cost volunteer opportunities in South & Central America.
- Low Cost Volunteer www.lowcostvolunteer.com Projects in orphanages, wildlife parks, environmental work, construction, healthcare, teaching, arts and community work in Africa. Costs start at US$200
- Sustainable Bolivia www.sustainablebolivia.org Placements in child and adult education, physiotherapy, orphan care, environmental conservation, healthcare, housing construction, and much more. Price from £185 - £275 per month.
- Bolivia Volunteers www.freewebs.com/boliviavolunteers independent provider of a variety of low cost volunteer placements in Bolivia. Costs start at £380 for 4 weeks.
- 100 Free or Cheap Volunteer Work Opportunities from the Overseas Jobs Centre www.overseasjobcentre.co.uk/100_free_volunteer_work_opportunities.shtml
- True Travellers Society www.truetravellers.org aims “to connect people to no or minimal fee meaningful travel and volunteer travel opportunities around the globe”
- Independent Volunteer http://independentvolunteer.org“acts as a ‘hub’ for the network of independent groups that are involved in wonderful projects around the world”
- SL Volunteers www.slvolunteers.com Based in the south of Sri Lanka, placements include working at Children’s homes and Special Needs Centres, teaching English and coaching sport. Price for 4 weeks: £525
Please note that the above links do not imply any recommendation of any organisation and you are recommended to investigate all opportunities carefully before applying.
Before you commit yourself, make sure you know all about the project. Questions you might want to ask include:
- Why was this project set up, who by and when?
- What will your actual day to day involvement be?
- Will you be picked up on arrival? Will you be taken straight to the project? How far is it?
- What accommodation is provided?
- What does your payment cover? Ask for a breakdown of costs. How much goes to the organisation arranging the placement and how much to the project you will b working on?
- What support will you get? Are there English speaking representatives nearby you can contact? What help do you get in an emergency (e.g. illness)?
- For further, detailed, advice on choosing a volunteer project and questions to ask, see Ethical Volunteering www.ethicalvolunteering.org
Further information and links can be found at:
|"If you want to feel good, do good! An effective cure for unhappiness is to help others."|
- Work Abroad www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sitesint.htm see the Voluntary Work tab
- Alternatives www.kent.ac.uk/careers/alternatives.htm has a section on Gap Years
- Work Experience and Vacation Work www.kent.ac.uk/careers/vacwork.htm
- Charities www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/charity.htm lists charities offering volunteer internships and a list of international volunteer internships
- How to get a CRB check – these will be required for many volunteer positions especially those that involve work with children or vulnerable adults www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv/JobProblems.htm#CRB
Volunteering in Specialised Areas
- Animal Care – www.kent.ac.uk/careers/animalman.htm
- Archaeology www.britarch.ac.uk/getinvolved/volunteer
- Crime-related: work with offenders, ex-offenders and victims www.kent.ac.uk/careers/criminology.htm
- Environment www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Environment.htm the Employers and Links tab gives a range of environmental organisations offering voluntary work in the UK and abroad
- Heritage www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/HeritageVolunteering.htm
- International Development Organisations www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/InternationalDevelopmentOrganisations.htm
- Law-related www.kent.ac.uk/careers/siteslaw.htm#pubbods
- Work with refugees www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/refugees.htm
Last fully updated 2012