Stuck for inspiration when it comes to DofE volunteering ideas? Then check out the list below for 30+ opportunities in the UK that you can use towards this part of your award.
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- How to pack a hiking backpack like a pro
- 9 Ideas for your Gold DofE Residential
Before we start….
If you are new to this blog, I’m Bex Band – a full-time adventurer and founder of Britains largest women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. I’m on a mission to make the outdoors and adventures as easy as possible. You can read more about me here.
**BOOK COMING SOON!** I’m writing a book about my first big adventure hiking the length of Israel (read more about my book deal here). To be first to hear when it is available for pre-order sign up to my newsletter.
What counts as volunteering?
The goal of volunteering is to give back to help people, the community or society. Before committing to a role, make sure you understand the criteria and have also cleared it with your DofE leader first.
Your DofE volunteering section should involve….
- giving time to do something useful without getting paid (apart from expenses)
- working with a charity, not for profit or community interest company (giving your time for a commercial company won’t count)
- can involve working in a team
The amount of time you need to commit for your volunteering section is:
- Bronze Award: 2 hours a week for 3 months
- Silver Award: 2 hours a week for 6 months
- Gold Award: 2 hours a week for 12 months
If you have more questions about criteria, check out the FAQ page on the volunteering DofE website. But now for some DofE volunteering ideas….
Volunteering with children
Volunteering with children can be very rewarding. There are lots of roles you can take as a volunteer supporting young people in your area. See if there are local youth groups, sports clubs, reading or big brother/sister schemes you can get involved with. Or check out these national charities:
A national reading charity providing one-to-one support to children. You can volunteer as a Reading Leader, helping children with their reading skills. 13+ only.
Empowering girls and young women from aged 5 upwards, with adventurous groups set up all over the country. 16+ only.
The Scout Association is the largest Scouting organisation in the United Kingdom and is the World Organization of the Scout Movement’s recognised member for the United Kingdom. 16+ only.
- Girls Out Loud
Empowering teenage girls to learn, lead and thrive. Volunteer to be a big sister and a role model.
Volunteer with disabled people
If supporting disabled people appeals to you, there are lots of charities across the country you can volunteer for. Do a search for:
– local disabled groups, meet ups or therapy classes
– mentoring and befriending charities for disabled people
Or try one of the following organisations:
- Riding for the Disabled Association
RDA’s have horses and ponies trained to support disabled people through therapy and enjoyment. You can volunteer to support an individual take part in a riding or carriage drive at your local RDA.
- Guide Dogs
Guide Dogs provides a range of services for people with sight loss. Volunteer to be a sighted guide and to support a blind person. 18+ only.
Volunteer with elderly people
Older people are often the most vulnerable in communities. Working with the elderly as a volunteer can often just mean providing some companionship to tackle loneliness.
If you have a specific talent (like singing or playing an instrument) you could see if your local care home would welcome you as a volunteer once a week to perform for the residents.
- Kissing it Better
Kissing it Better is a charity offering supported volunteering opportunities, so you can use your talents to light up the day for older people in hospitals and care homes. 14+ only.
- Royal Voluntary Service
RVS is a national charity delivering practical support for older people through the power of volunteering. There are 2 great ways to get involved as a volunteer – in their community cafe or in their community clubs. 14+ only.
- Sanctuary Care Ltd
Sanctuary Care helps elderly people living in residential care live a happy and connected life. Volunteer befrienders provide extra support with chatting, reading, listening or joining residents on short walks. 13+ only.
Volunteering at summer camps
If you enjoy working with children and have lots of energy, then why not consider volunteering for a residential camp. Responsibilities could include looking after the children, coming up with activities and getting messy!
UK based summer camp holidays run by The ATE Trust for children aged 8-16. Volunteer to be a monitor. 17+ only.YHA Summer Camps
- Youth Adventure Trust
Runs adventure programs to support disadvantaged children in the South West of England. Volunteer to help on their activity days or camps. 18+ only.
CHICKS provides free respite breaks to children aged 8-15 from all over the UK who would really benefit from a break from their home lives. You can volunteer on one of their respite holidays. 18+ only.
Volunteering in a charity shop or cafe
Volunteering in a charity shop or cafe could include duties such as sorting through stock, organising shelves and assisting customers. If this sounds exciting to you, do some research to see what charity shops are nearby or if there are any community cafes you can get involved with.
Bernardo’s supports vulnerable children in the UK. They have stores across the country needing volunteers. 14+ only.
- Blue Cross
The Blue Cross house abandoned and unwanted pets as well as providing treatments in their clinics. Help in their charity shops. 14+ only.
- The British Red Cross
The British Red Cross aims to help people, whoever and wherever they are, in times of crisis. They have stores across the country needing volunteers. 15+ only.
- The Children’s Society
The Children’s Society helps vulnerable children who have nowhere else to turn. Help in one of their stores assisting customers and sorting donations. 14+ only.
Oxfam is working to eradicate poverty all over the world. You can volunteer in one of their many charity shops selling music online, merchandising vintage clothes and researching books. 14+ only.
YHA provides budget accommodation for individuals, families and groups. Help out at a nearby hostel working in the cafe, on reception or doing some gardening. 14+ only.
Volunteering with animals
Volunteering with animals can be fun but also hard-work. You’ve got to be ready to get your hands dirty as popper-scooping and cleaning out pens often come as part of the deal. If you are wanting to work with animals see if you have any of the following locally:
– cat and dog shelter
– dog walking or pet sitting services for elderly and disabled people
– animal therapy organisations
- Blue Cross
The Blue Cross house abandoned and unwanted pets as well as providing treatments in their clinics. Help in their charity shops. Support the team with looking after pets in their care. 14+ only.
- Cats Protection
Cats Protection helps around 200,000 cats and kittens every year in their branches and centres across the country. Cat care volunteers help cats and kittens in the charity’s care. 14+ only.
- Guide Dog
Guide Dogs provides a range of services for people with sight loss. You can volunteer to be a puppy walker for guide dogs in training.
Volunteering in conservation or the outdoors
Conservation volunteering opportunities usually come with the added benefit of included time outside! There are a variety of roles available from beach cleans to tree planting.
The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home and secure a healthy environment for wildlife. Join us. They have lots of different volunteer roles on their website.
- The National Trust
The National Trust looks after the places you love, from houses, buildings and gardens to coast and countryside. You can join as a volunteer helping at one of the places helping with customers, gardening or litter picking.
- The Canal and River Trust
The Canal and River Trust looks after England and Wales waterways. You can volunteer in conservation helping to look after their networks. 13+ only.
- The Countryside Restoration Trust
The Countryside Restoration Trust is the UK’s leading charity promoting wildlife-friendly farming and campaigning for a living, working countryside. You can volunteer with hedge planting, cleaning scrub, pairing gates and putting up nest boxes. 14+ only.
- The National Energy Foundation
NEF give individuals and organisations the knowledge and inspiration to improve the use of energy in buildings. You can volunteer to set up an exciting project to help your community be more energy efficient. 14+ only.
- Park Run
Parkrun is a collection of 5-kilometre running events that take place every Saturday morning at all over the UK. You can volunteer as a marshal to help make the events happen for people and families locally. 18+ only.
- Surfers Against Sewers
Surfers Against Sewers are a conservation charity supporting marine conservation in the UK. One of the best ways you can volunteer is by joining in their regular beach cleans or, even better, setting one up yourself.
Volunteer as a fundraiser or admin
Fundraisers are key to keeping charities running with essential funds. As a fundraiser your role might include bucket collecting, helping organising or running events or campaigning in the streets. I think there are very few charities that would say no to some fundraising help so if there is a local charity you are passionate about, contact them directly to ask!
- Cats Protection
Cats Protection helps around 200,000 cats and kittens every year in their branches and centres across the country. You can volunteer with their social media and marketing to help raise awareness.
- The British Red Cross
The British Red Cross aims to help people, whoever and wherever they are, in times of crisis. They are looking for fundraisers to help support the charity. 15+ only.
- The Children’s Society
The Children’s Society runs local projects, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable. Volunteer your time as a fundraiser for the charity as a group or individual. 14+
DofE volunteering ideas
Hopefully, these DofE volunteering ideas have given you some inspiration of what to do for your service. My main bit of advice with any volunteering you do is:
- Choose a charity and role that you will be passionate and excited about undertaking
- Think about your skills and how you can best use them to help a charity or person in need
- Always be reliable and honest with any charity or volunteering role you take on
Have you got any other DofE volunteering ideas I’ve missed? Or any questions about volunteering for your Duke of Edinburgh? Let me know in the comments box below!
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