Volunteering is a good way of gaining skills and experience if you are looking to get back into work.
It can be rewarding in itself and benefit other individuals and your community. You could make new friends, discover new interests, and it may help you to identify types of jobs that you would enjoy.
Sometimes volunteering can lead to paid employment with the organisation you volunteer for, but you shouldn’t expect this as a matter of course. It's also looked upon favourably by prospective employers, so don't forget to include any volunteering experience on your CV.
Organisations usually pay volunteer’s expenses such as travel costs. As long as you are only paid expenses, volunteering should not affect your entitlement to social security benefits.
Some organisations have age limits for volunteers. This will usually be lawful as the age discrimination regulations do not cover volunteering. For example, a charity working with young people may feel that volunteer youth leaders should be aged from 18 to 25.
Where to volunteer
Perhaps you are interested in becoming a volunteer but aren't sure what types of things you could do. There are lots of different volunteer roles available across the UK, in fact, there is something to suit everyone.
Here are some ideas:
- volunteering for a local group like the Scouts
- becoming a school governor
- joining the board of trustees of a charity
- conservation work in a community garden
- cooking for a soup kitchen
- helping in a charity shop
- volunteering for a campaigning organisation
- visiting patients in a local hospital
- helping at your local foodbank
- volunteering at a museum giftshop or cafe
- leading tours at a National Trust property
- tutoring students with reading difficulties.
If you want to volunteer for Age UK there are many opportunities. You could volunteer in one of our charity shops, help out at the head office, or assist your local Age UK with the activities they run for people in your area.
Register your interest in volunteering for Age UK
There are also volunteer centres in England where you can go and chat to an advisor who can help you find local volunteering opportunities. These centres are supported by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. You can search for your local centre through their website.
The website Do-It contains a database of volunteering opportunities all over the UK. You can search by location and by area of interest.