Volunteering opportunities

Joining a community means giving back – and getting a great deal in return. There are volunteering opportunities to suit everyone, though to browse and apply you'll need your InfoHub login.

Coronavirus volunteering

We know that many students and staff will be looking to volunteer at this time, whether that is because you have free time, are not able to continue with your normal volunteering role, or because you want to do something to help – thank you!

We have collated advice below on things you should consider, and where to find opportunities. As always, if you have any questions about volunteering, email volunteering@uwe.ac.uk

Coronavirus volunteering FAQs

Am I still allowed to volunteer?

The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home. You can certainly volunteer from home – see lots of opportunities linked below!

You are also allowed to go out to volunteer as long as you are following government advice. This means that you can leave home to volunteer if you’re providing help to vulnerable people and if your volunteering cannot be done from home.

You need to:

  • Make sure you minimise the time you’re spending outside
  • Only volunteer physically if you aren’t in an especially high-risk group and haven’t been advised to self-isolate
  • Only volunteer physically if you have had no coronavirus-related symptoms (even if very mild) in the last 7 days, and no one in your household has had symptoms in the last 14 days
  • Only provide support where it’s essential for the health or well-being of a vulnerable person

To keep yourself and others safe, you should also:

  • Let someone know where you are going
  • Stay outside of people’s homes
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds
  • Make sure you don’t take on too much – it’s often better not to offer than to let someone down

How can I volunteer virtually (online or by phone)?

There are lots of ways to volunteer from home. You can:

  • Sign in to UWE Infohub using your UWE student email address and password and search for ‘Volunteer from home’ options – this will be updated regularly
  • Check in on family, friends and neighbours by phone
  • Sign up to be a phone-based NHS Volunteer Responder
  • Sign up to volunteer from home for your local council’s response group – in Bristol this is via Can Do Bristol

Can I volunteer in person?

You can volunteer in person, but you must make sure you are adhering to government advice to keep yourself and others safe. Remember you should only leave your home if it is essential, either for your health or wellbeing, or that of a vulnerable person you are supporting.

To help look after the vulnerable on your street or in your area, you can find and sign up for your local Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group.

Volunteer at a Food Bank (search for your local bank via the Trussell Trust) or for FareShare.

You can also sign up to be an NHS volunteer responder, a range of roles are needed from telephone befriending to picking up supplies or driving.

You can also check UWE Infohub (sign in using your UWE student email address and password) for available roles with organisations still providing support, but please be aware that some opportunities may no longer be available, or details may have changed between the advert being posted and the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

I’m not able to volunteer – is there something else I can do?

Many charities are facing unprecedented demands for their service, as well as staff and volunteer absence. If you are able, consider donating to a charity you support, or your local hospice, health and/or mental health charities, or food banks.

You could also donate to a local or international Coronavirus response fund – in Bristol you can do this via Quartet Community Foundation.

If there are purchases you do need to make, for example food and cleaning supplies, you can use these to support local, independent businesses who are offering online orders.

Fundraising and encouraging others to make donations will make a huge difference to charities struggling at this time. Keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different and many people are facing financial insecurity, so please try to be sensitive with your requests.

One-off volunteering

Only got a few hours to spare? No problem. Many local organisations welcome volunteers for a day or less – with no ongoing commitment.

Explore one-off volunteering opportunities (InfoHub login required).

"One-off events are a fantastic way to volunteer, as you are able to give as much time as you can afford to. The feel good factor of working hard for a whole day is fantastic!"

Amy, one-off volunteer

Amy one-off volunteer

Opportunities by sector

Whether you want to totally immerse in your course subject area, or mix things up and explore a different avenue, there are some really exciting sector-specific opportunities. Think about the skills you want to gain and what fires your imagination – then start connecting.

"Art + Power really helped me to gain valuable knowledge, confidence and experience. They are a very supportive organisation and I’d definitely like to be involved more and support them in the future."

Phoebe, volunteered with Art + Power

Phoebe volunteered with Art + Power

UWE Bristol Volunteering projects

We run a range of projects around Bristol for you to get involved in. Get stuck in working with other students and your local community, gaining CV-enhancing experience and hands-on skills as you give back. Projects take place during the autumn and spring terms, and are designed to fit around your studies.

Professional creative volunteering

Hoping to make it in the creative or events industries? Experience counts. Do something great – and give yourself a head start come interview time – by working with a not-for-profit on a real, live challenge.

Timings are arranged to suit you and the organisation, for up to ten weeks. Typically, you'll work on a real brief related to the skills you want to develop. You'll also get the chance to network with other creatives in the organisation and produce work for your portfolio or CV.

To find out more, get in touch with volunteering@uwe.ac.uk.

School Volunteering Programme

As a UWE Bristol Schools Volunteer, you could work in a variety of roles, from Reading Buddy to English as a Second Language Tutor.

The roles are flexible and involve different time commitments, but be prepared to volunteer at least 25 hours over the course of at least eight weeks.

We recruit volunteers in September to start volunteering after the October half term. We also open recruitment again before Christmas for volunteers to start in February.

Primary School Reading Buddy

Reading Buddies will receive training from UWE Bristol in supporting children with reading on a one-to-one basis. This helps children improve their comprehension and literacy skills. More importantly, it's about encouraging an enjoyment of reading and raising their reading confidence.

The Reading Buddy role can be quite varied and schools are encouraged to make use of your subject knowledge and skills. For example, a history student may be asked to support a class studying medieval Britain, or a maths student may be asked to play number games to develop children's numeracy. You could also run lunchtime clubs or support Children's University activities. The role is what you make it and the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

Reading Buddy – find out more and apply.

Forest School Volunteer

At Forest School, children explore the woods and outdoor spaces, finding out about the plants and animals we share our world with. They can climb trees, make dens or rope swings, fish or forage. They can also make wonderful perfumes and potions; sit and listen to nature; learn how to use tools; have campfires and lots more. Free play is encouraged and any activities reflect the seasons and encourage appreciation of the woodland around them.

As a volunteer, you can gain experience supporting children's learning in a completely different setting. You will learn about the risks and how to manage children outside, as well as having a great deal of fun at the same time.

Forest School - find out more and apply.

One-to-one Tutor

One-to-one Tutors will work with Action Tutoring, our partner charity. They support young people facing socio-economic disadvantages to achieve a meaningful level of academic attainment, opening doors into education, employment or training. You will be trained to a high level as a volunteer tutor, working with pupils to increase their subject knowledge, confidence and study skills.

Tutoring - find out more and apply

English as an Additional Language (EAL) home tutor

EAL tutors will work with our partner, Jacari. This is a student charity providing home tutoring for disadvantaged children aged 6 to 16 who don’t speak English as their first language. You'll work with the child and their family to help improve their learning ability and English confidence. You'll be the essential link between a child and their (often new) community.

You will be given specialist training, as well as ongoing support and resources from Jacari.

This is a special role which will involve building a close relationship with a child and their family. Jacari ask that volunteers are prepared to commit to volunteering one hour a week (plus planning time) for at least six months, with breaks for school and university holidays.

"I found the experience both enlightening and useful. I would urge any student who is considering a career in education, or who wants to strengthen their CV with some meaningful volunteering, to take the opportunity to volunteer with local schools. "

Schools Programme Volunteer, UWE Bristol Volunteering

Schools Programme Volunteer UWE Bristol Volunteering

International volunteering

The UWE Bristol Go Global team have identified trusted global volunteering providers who offer safe, ethical, good value, and positive outcomes for both student volunteers and communities.

Volunteering projects

East African Playgrounds – Uganda volunteer project

Take part in a four-week project with East African Playgrounds. You can volunteer to build a playground at a school in Uganda and give children their childhoods through play. 

DAIGO – Daughters of Africa Foundation (DOAF)

Take part in volunteering opportunities as part of Daughters of Africa Foundation’s grassroots development projects in Africa. Projects include health and first aid, sports rehabilitation, publishing, eco-building and museum archiving.

Project Zulu

Volunteer to take part in education development projects in the Madadeni and Dundee Townships in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

SLV Global – psychology and mental health placements

Looking for psychology work experience? Gain valuable, practical experience in the mental health sector whilst being immersed in a unique and exciting culture. SLV Global has 4 to 12-week placements working in mental health in Bali and India.

Think Pacific

Volunteer with Think Pacific, contributing to long-term sports and education development projects in beautiful rural Fiji.

Apply for a volunteer project

You will need to apply directly through your chosen organisation's website. Your application will be assessed by the individual organisations. Successful applicants wishing to secure global funding support will receive it on a first-come, first-served basis.

UWE Bristol Employability Bursary

Providing you meet the eligibility criteria, all of the programmes above can be part-to-fully funded by UWE Bristol via the UWE Bristol Employability Bursary. To find out more, including how to have your activity approved so that your funding can be released, visit our Go Global financial support page.

Contact us

For any queries regarding the opportunities above, email the UWE Bristol Go Global team on goglobal@uwe.ac.uk.

Nakita's international volunteering experience

Nakita Hedges, LLB(Hons) Law, volunteered with the African Prisons Project. She tells us about surprising things she encountered whilst volunteering, and times where she felt she'd really made a difference.

The Students' Union

The Students' Union organises a series of one-off action days in the local community for teams of student volunteers working in partnership with voluntary organisations and charities to make a difference.

View upcoming opportunities on The Students' Union at UWE website.

Get in touch

If you have any further questions about volunteering, please email volunteering@uwe.ac.uk, or get in touch another way.

Further information

Please see further information below about volunteering.

I didn't sign up in Term One. Can I still volunteer?

Yes. We have volunteering opportunities available all year round. Search on InfoHub or contact UWE Bristol Volunteering for advice and support.

Can I take a break from volunteering during university vacations?

The organisations understand that students need to take breaks for holidays and during exam periods. The most important thing is to tell them in advance so that organisations can plan around you. Our UWE Bristol Volunteering Projects and Schools Programme stop over the holidays.

How long will it take until I can start volunteering?

This depends on the role. For some volunteering opportunities you can get started straight away. For others, you may need to complete training and a DBS (criminal record) check. Each one is different so you should ask the organisation when you get in touch.

What if I don't like my volunteering role?

Volunteering is a two-way process. If you are not happy in your role, it is important to talk to the organisation you are volunteering at, or contact us. It might be that they can help to make it a better experience for you. Although you are expected to show commitment, you do not have to keep doing something that you don't enjoy.