Volunteering opportunities

Joining a community means giving back – and getting a great deal in return. There are volunteering opportunities to suit everyone.

Coronavirus and volunteering - FAQs

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

Am I still allowed to volunteer?

Yes. Even if you need to or wish to stay at home, you can certainly still volunteer – see lots of opportunities linked below!

You are also allowed to go out to volunteer as long as you are following government advice regarding restrictions and safety measures. 

You need to:

  • stay at least one metre and ideally at least two metres from those outside your household and/or support bubble at all times
  • only volunteer in person if you aren’t in an especially high-risk group and haven’t been advised to self-isolate.

Do not volunteer in person if:

  • you have had coronavirus-related symptoms or a positive test in the last seven days
  • anyone in your household or support bubble has had symptoms or a positive test in the last 10 days
  • you have been told by NHS Test and Trace that you’ve been in contact with someone who has coronavirus and needs to self-isolate.

To keep yourself and others safe, you should also:

  • let someone know where you are going
  • stay outside of people’s homes and avoid enclosed or crowded areas as much as possible
  • wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds
  • wear a face covering where required and ideally in any enclosed or crowded public space
  • ask the organisation you are volunteering with about their Covid-19 protocols and risk assessment and ensure you are following any directions given
  • 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 Bristol Infohub using your UWE Bristol 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.

If you’re not sure where to start, or have a specific skill you want to share to support a charity, then why not contact the Volunteering Team for help? You can email us at volunteering@uwe.ac.uk.

Can I volunteer in person?

Yes, but please see our ‘Am I still allowed to volunteer?’ question for guidance on volunteering in person safely.

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.

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.

Some of our sector picks are below, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, don’t worry! There is a full list of all our opportunities on Infohub (login required), or you can contact the Volunteering team for more advice.

"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

Experience counts. Do something great and use your skills to support a charity in areas like photography, film, graphic design, illustration, web development or branding.

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.

Telephone befriending

Telephone befriending is a form of volunteering which provides emotional support for those that are vulnerable or lonely. Closure of community services and activities, as well as the inability to safely leave the house for many, has resulted in people wanting more contact with the community in a safe way. We are looking for students to volunteer as telephone or video befrienders.

You will be matched to a charity that interests you and asked to call one of their service users on a weekly basis, for a friendly chat and check in, boosting their morale and wellbeing. Charities include those working with elderly people in nursing homes, people with learning disabilities, young people or those suffering from abuse.

Training will be provided as well as support from staff members. There are a wide range of befriending roles available, which require a one- to three-hour commitment per week over a specified period.

Email volunteering@uwe.ac.uk for more information and to apply.

Volunteering in schools

There are lots of ways you can support your local schools. Some ideas are below – you can find schools and organisations looking for these volunteers on Infohub.

Reading Buddy

Reading Buddies work one to one with children or in small groups to give them support and feedback on their reading, and more importantly to make reading engaging and fun! Check Infohub for Reading Buddy roles or email volunteering@uwe.ac.uk for support finding a role.

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.

Check Infohub for Forest School Volunteer roles.

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.

Search for Jacari on Infohub.

"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.

International volunteering projects

Play Action International – Uganda volunteer project

Take part in a four-week project with Play Action International. 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. 

Think Pacific

Think Pacific have taken their award-winning programmes online to bring you a unique virtual intern experience. This allows you to contribute to the Fiji National Development Plan and United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals across a range of different careers fields.

Apply for an international 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 international volunteering 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 international volunteering opportunities, 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 (now Educating for Justice). 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.