How to Find Voluntary Work in London
There are many reasons that one might be looking for voluntary work. Perhaps you want to give something back to your community. Maybe you want to gain some work experience. You might want to do something to help the environment, or perhaps you simply want something great to add to your CV.
Whatever the reason, volunteering can be a great addition to your life. So let’s take a look at how you go about finding voluntary work in London.
The first thing you need to think about is what sector you’d like to volunteer in. You might want to take a look at your skills, and perhaps you could utilize these in giving back to the community.
Or perhaps you’d prefer to volunteer in something completely different to your every day life.
For instance, if you work in an office 5 days a week, perhaps you’d relish the chance to be outside planting trees, clearing rubbish or anything else that would see you out in the open air.
There are many websites online that can help you decide what kind of volunteering work you might like to do. Probably the first place you should look should be the official Government website page about volunteering. Here you can find out about various different companies that need volunteers, as well as your rights as a volunteer.
Most charities are looking for people to help out with volunteering, be it for a couple of hours a week in a shop or a longer term commitment – the choice is up to you.
The following are good websites to start getting some information about the kind of volunteering placements that are offered:
Do It: The largest of all volunteering programs. Currently there are nearly half a million different volunteer places available. You can refine your search by the subjects that interest you, and there really is something that will suit everyone.
For example, you could join the “meeters and greeters” at St Bart’s Hospital, or be a cheerer at the 2016 London Marathon. How about a café support volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Society, or a volunteer at PAWS charity shop (Pets and Wildlife Sanctuary) in Waterloo.
Volunteering Matters: This organization helps deliver volunteer led solutions to some of the most challenging situations the human race sees today. The volunteering roles tend to be in fields such as mentoring, or handyperson roles for elderly and vulnerable people. There are also lots of roles in the area of child protection, as well as with the disabled and family life.
Reach: This is an organization that specializes in connecting charities with skilled volunteers. For instance, if you’re experienced in organization management then there are plenty of opportunities to choose from.
They are also looking for people with IT skills, and those from the finance sector, research sector, digital sector, legal sector, marketing, communications and more. In addition you can create your own profile and let charities reach out to you for your skills.
The National Citizen Service: Known as NCS for short, this is where young people aged 16 to 17 can register for various volunteer placements.
Team London: This is the Mayor of London’s website that has some great volunteering opportunities advertised. These include what is known as “speed volunteering,” where there are hundreds of short, one-off volunteering opportunities that won’t take up much of your time.
Charity Job: This website is simply a list service of various volunteer positions that are available. There are many different types of role on offer, from family befrienders who provide an emotional support role to families of those in prison, to bucket collectors for charities, fundraisers and volunteer drivers.
Gum Tree: This advertising website also has a section where volunteering opportunities are advertised. Some of the largest charities are featured here, such as Oxfam and the Red Cross.
Find Out More
The NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organizations) is a great website that explains everything that’s involved about volunteering. They offer a huge amount of practical support, including how-to- guides, information sheets, various publications and even video training.
They suggest that all you need to start volunteering is “a passion” and some spare time (sometimes very little spare time).
Before you approach any organizations, try writing a list of the type of organization or cause that you would like to help. Animals, the elderly, vulnerable people, children, disabled people… The list is endless and is a very personal choice.
Then list the skills you have to offer. Don’t dumb yourself down in this respect. Sure, there will be people out there who have very specific skills to offer, such as legal and financial skills, teachers, medical staff etc, but don’t forget the importance of other life skills, such as communication, running a household, being caring, experience in fundraising, being good at making friends…
These are all very important attributes that can be put to good use.
You then need to work out the amount of time you have to give. Be realistic here, and be clear from the outset. Remember to factor in any travel time to and from the location that you’re going to be volunteering from as well.
It can be a good idea to get references (from work, previous employment, friends and colleague) that will show potential organizations exactly what it is that you’re good at.
Other Useful Links
It’s impossible for us to provide an exhaustive list of all the organizations looking for volunteers. Some others that we’ve not mentioned above include:
- Time Bank: Who tackle complex social problems within the community.
- Barnado’s: The children’s charity
- The Children’s Society: Another children’s charity
- Battersea Dog’s and Cat’s Home: A London rescue centre for unwanted animals.
- The RSPCA: The Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals.
- The London Wildlife Trust: Helping protect London’s wildlife.
- The Conservation Volunteers in London: Tackling all kinds of environmental work across the capital
As you can see, there’s no shortage of volunteering opportunities within London. It simply takes a little bit of time and a will to want to help. In addition, volunteering provides those who carry it out with an enormous amount of personal satisfaction, as well as the knowledge that you really are making a difference with your spare time.