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If you're interested in contributing to positive social or environmental change but not quite sure about taking the plunge with your full-time job, volunteering can be a great option. Such opportunities can act as a stepping stone to finding a more permanent position in the area or simply provide you with a way of helping out while also developing your own skills.
We know that plenty of London-based people are looking for exciting and engaging volunteering options, but in such a large city it can be difficult to know where to start your search. That's why we've put together this short guide to help you on your way.
Whether you're an expert in a certain field with some hard skills you'd like to use for good or simply keen to give back to your local community in your spare time, there's something in the volunteering world for you. Do you have a particular skill or educational background which enables you to provide a service to those who otherwise couldn't afford it? Perhaps legal or financial advice, accounting services, therapy, or consulting work? If so, pro bono work is a fantastic way to give back to your local London community by sharing your unique skillsets.
However, don't be put off if you don't have such expertise. Most organisations are always on the lookout for passionate and dedicated people to join them as volunteers.
Find Opportunities That Interest You
We've put together a list of organisations which collate current volunteer opportunities and provide information on how to get involved. They're a great starting point to get your volunteer career off the ground:
- Reach Volunteering - a leading platform that brings together people, skills and good causes. Since there are opportunities in a wide variety of areas, it's easy for prospective volunteers to find one they are passionate about.
- TimeBank - offers a variety of programmes in which volunteers can mentor individuals using their own personal skill sets. They also help companies begin their own corporate volunteer programs so if you are an intrapreneur looking to change your company’s culture, perhaps getting in contact with TimeBank can help!
- Social Starters - Social Starters’ volunteer pairing services offer short term social enterprise volunteering UK for business professionals wanting to share skills, and learn about social enterprise.
- Vinspired- The job website of the volunteer world specifically catered for the UK. You can find opportunities here for almost all your interests with only a few simple clicks in the search tool.
- Envision- Envision specialises in working with youth on topics that volunteers and children are passionate about. If you are interested in sports development, fashion, science, or any other topic and working with children, than take a look at their site.
- Team London - Team London is the official volunteering website brought to you by the mayor's office. You can search opportunities by skill, interest or borough.
- Do-it - The UK's national volunteering database features oportunities in a wide variety of fields, ensuring your talents are put to good use.
- idealist - Another fantasitc volunteer website connecting you with the causes that you care about. They offer both an English and Spanish version of their website.
Making Impact in London
Wondering what volunteer work actually involves? Below we've detailed a couple of specific examples of organisations with which you can volunteer and the type of work you can do with them.
For the Hipsters & Handy-wo[men]: The Bike Project: The Bike Project is dedicated to giving every asylum seeker in London the opportunity to own a bicycle. Having access to a reliable mode of transportation is essential for economic mobility in today’s modern cities. This bike workshop turned charity attacks one of the affordable transportation troubles refugees may find upon arrival in London while also breathing new life into old bikes. The workshop takes in old bicycles, repairs, and rejuvenates them to their former glory, then hands them off to refugees who have signed up to receive a bike. It is a lovely idea which has helped so many refugees already to gain affordable, active, and healthy transportation. Volunteers can help in the office or in the workshop depending on their skill set.
For the Sports & Fitness Fanatic: Sported is an organisation which sees sports as away to aid in community development across the UK. It has found that their sport development programmes lead to better community health and wellbeing, lower crime and anti-social behavior, higher rates of education and employability, community unity, and the alleviation of sport participation inequalities. They offer opportunities to volunteer as a mentor for one of their 3,000+ sports and youth programmes either for a 3-6 month period or on a more flexible short-term basis. So why not get involved today and help transform communities across the UK into healthier places to live?
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