Volunteering to give your time, energy and experience helps others and there are also many benefits for you.
As a volunteer you can gain:
- valuable employability skills
- practical work experience
- a network of contacts
- potential employment opportunities
- the chance to try something new
Voluntary work can be flexible to fit around your commitments. You can choose to volunteer alongside your course, as part of your study, during vacation periods or in a gap year.
It's also worth bearing in mind that some careers are difficult to get into without previous volunteer experience, for example working in development or the environment.
If you are giving up your free time and wanting to give your best, it is wise to do something you are passionate about.
Read about the impact of volunteering on university students in London in the Student Volunteering Survey 2011 (PDF: 1.25MB), produced by Workers in Student Community Volunteering.
Guardian careers: Q&A includes a student and graduate guide to volunteering.
Watch our Journey to Work video to see student and employer insights on the benefits of volunteering. (University login required. Video doesn't play on mobile devices).
Guardian careers offers advice on Summer Jobs: a Guide to Temping, Internships and Volunteering
We've listed below a range of websites to help you find volunteering opportunities in the North East, the UK and overseas.
Volunteering in the North East
Go Volunteer is part of Newcastle University Students' Union (NUSU) and aims to help Newcastle University students find volunteering opportunities.
As well as projects within NUSU and student-led projects, they also have links to over 200 charities and not-for-profit organisations within the local community. They offer one-off as well as regular, long term opportunities, and can even help you start up your own project.
For further information and to get involved, visit Go Volunteer.
Additional opportunities available in the North East:
- Career Development Module
- Volunteer Centre Newcastle - register online for access to opportunities in Newcastle
- Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service
Volunteering in the UK
The following websites provide information about volunteering in the UK:
- Volunteering Matters
- Time Bank
- Association of Charity Shops: volunteer in a charity shop
- Volunteering Wales
- gov.uk - find volunteer placements
- National Youth Agency
- National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) - news and information about voluntary organisations.
- Volunteer Now - volunteering in Northern Ireland
The following websites provide information about volunteering outside of the UK:
- European Voluntary Service
- International Citizen Service - government initiative providing young people (aged 18-22) with three month voluntary work placements in deprived areas overseas, funding is available on a means-tested basis
- Raleigh International - charity offering five to 10 week voluntary expeditions in Borneo, India, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
- Lattitude Global Volunteering - international youth development charity offering volunteering and gap year placements for people aged 17-25, bursaries are available for UK applicants who need financial support to take part
- Madventurer - non-profit volunteering opportunities in Africa, Asia and South America
- POD - non-profit organisation offering one week to six month volunteer projects around the world
- Concordia - non-profit organisation offering volunteer projects in over 60 countries
- UNA Exchange - non-profit organisation offering one to 12 month volunteer projects in over 60 countries
- Volunteer World - organisation offering a range of worldwide volunteering opportunities
- Original Volunteers - organisation offering volunteering opportunities across the world
Working from home as a volunteer can be a good option if you want experience which is flexible around your study commitments.
Virtual volunteering allows you to contribute your spare time to a good cause, while building up experience and skills in a variety of areas. The work can usually be completed remotely, from home so it's a very flexible way to gain work experience. Virtual volunteering can include:
The following websites provide further information and opportunities:
- United Nations Volunteering Online – a range of voluntary projects available for international charities
- Vinspired - online volunteering opportunities
- SAGA - nine great ways to volunteer online
- Alive - be a virtual volunteer
- LSE Careers - Online volunteering: How to get started
- Goodwill - build your career by volunteering online
Funding a Voluntary Project
Find opportunities and information on funding voluntary projects.
Speak to the Careers Service for information and advice on funding projects through the Student Initiative Fund.
Go Volunteer, part of Newcastle University Students' Union, provides grant schemes for new student-led volunteer projects.
The following links provide further information on funding:
- gov.uk: applying for funding for community projects - links to local government contacts
- Lattitude Global Volunteering Bursaries - available for UK applicants aged 17-25
Get help from the Careers Service and find information about employment rights as a volunteer.
Advice from the Careers Service
For further help and advice about volunteering, drop into the Careers Service, no appointment necessary.
Visit gov.uk for information about employment rights as a volunteer.