Nobody really likes the idea of ‘working for free’, but with volunteering you do in fact get plenty back in return. Aside from making a positive impact on society, volunteering will allow you to sample a job or workplace, develop key skills that’ll impress future employers, and meet like-minded people. It’ll also give you something super impressive to include on your CV, resume, cover letter or application...
Ready to get going? We’ve listed a few popular volunteering opportunities that are quite common around the world to get you started, but a quick chat with your school/college careers department or a google search is bound to throw up more that are local to your specific area. Each one listed below is suited to anyone and will help you to really make a difference, but we’ve also listed specific job sectors that they would be particularly relevant to.
Volunteer at your local library
- Libraries often enjoy having volunteers to assist them with cleaning, organizing, or checking books out. They often have a variety of programs during the summer months. You may be able to get involved in helping younger children to read or organizing a special themed day event for kids.
- Ideal for those interested in: education, publishing or administration
Write articles for a paper
- Plenty of schools, colleges and sixth forms have their own paper or newsletter, and they’re very likely on the lookout for writers who can express themselves clearly and have a strong command of spelling, punctuation and grammar. If your school doesn’t have one, try to set one up or try out your local town or city’s newspaper - if you can write well, age shouldn’t be a barrier! Start by sending them a speculative article about a topic or news event that interests you, and try to mimic the style of the other articles in their publication.
- Ideal for those interested in: writing, media, publishing and journalism
Help out at a hospital, nursing home or residential home
- Hospitals, nursing homes and residential homes are often looking for volunteers to perform a variety of duties. You may be able to make photocopies, direct visitors, work in the gift shop or simply talk with residents or patients who need a little cheering up.
- Ideal for those interested in: nursing, medicine, adult care
Help to feed people at a soup kitchen
- A soup kitchen in your area may serve meals one or two times a day and are always in need of dishwashers and general help for the serving of food. Some soup kitchens may have age restrictions due to local laws about teens working in kitchens. But you may still be able to serve food or assist with set-up and clean-up.
- Ideal for those interested in: catering, services
Build homes with Habitat for Humanity
- Habitat for Humanity offers international volunteer programmes - both short-term and long-term - for people who’d like to help others to have a decent place to live. People all around the world come together to build decent, sustainable homes for those less fortunate than themselves. They have a number of opportunities specifically for those under 18, so get in touch with them to find out what’s currently on offer.
- Ideal for those interested in: construction, maintenance, engineering, architecture
Fight injustice with Amnesty International
- Amnesty International is a global organization that fights injustice and promotes human rights. Current campaigns they’re addressing include gun violence, the refugee crisis, the death penalty, national security and the rights of women, LGBT people and indigenous communities. There are many, many ways you can volunteer for them, from joining a peaceful protest to raising money. Click here for more information.
- Ideal for those interested in: Law, Civil Service, Politics
Help to save lives with the Red Cross
- There are Red Cross societies scattered across the world - not just in the U.K. and U.S.A. - and many have an entire youth section, called the Junior Red Cross, specifically for those under 18. You can help to organise a blood drive, become educated and ready for disaster relief or train younger children home safety. Search through Google to see if there’s a Red Cross organisation in your country.
- Ideal for those interested in: emergency services, education
- There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer abroad if you’re aged 16 or over. As well as giving you an insight into an entirely different culture, you’ll have the opportunity to directly change people’s lives for the better. Projects can include teaching, building homes, cleaning, taking care of animals, elderly care or refugee support. Keep in mind, however, that these opportunities are rarely free, and you will be expected to pay for your own transport and accommodation (although these, together with general living costs, are usually included in the total cost of the placement).
- Ideal for those interested in: social studies, anthropology, education, care services
Useful tip: once you’ve completed your volunteer placement, record it on Unifrog using the ‘activities’ tool. It’s great to do this during the placement or as soon as you finish it, whilst your memory of it is strong. Try to also make a note of any skills it’s helped you to develop.
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