What does volunteering involve in the UK?
Volunteering means different things in different countries. Here in the UK, volunteering generally involves doing unpaid activities that in some way benefit the local community.
I’m only here for a few months. Can I still volunteer?
Yes, the amount of time organisations expect volunteers to commit for really varies. You can also get involved in some of the City Volunteering taster days and one-off events. Details of these are on the website or you can sign up to City Volunteering to receive email updates.
I’m not fluent in English. Could this affect my options when it comes to volunteering?
Some volunteering opportunities will need fluent English however there are many where it is not essential. There are also opportunities where speaking another language is an advantage: for example supporting refugees and asylum seekers. If you are concerned discuss it further with the City Volunteering team.
If you are an international student interested in volunteering then here are a few things that you might want to do to speed up the process of getting involved.
Get a copy of your police record from your home country
UK regulations require anyone working with children, young people or vulnerable adults to produce evidence that they have no relevant criminal convictions. Therefore if you have an interest in working with any of these groups you should bring a copy of you police record with you when you come to the UK.
Ensure that you have a student visa that entitles you to work
If you are coming to the UK for less than 6 months and are from a non visa national country you may be planning to obtain your entry clearance on arrival in the UK as a Student Visitor. If this is the case you will be unable to work or volunteer during your stay in the UK. Therefore if you would like to volunteer while at City University please ensure that you have a full student visa before you travel – you cannot change your status once you are in the UK, to do so you would be required to return to your country of origin.
Please note: On a Student Visitor visa you will not be given conditions that allow you to work part-time during your studies in the UK. Therefore, if you are coming for a course that lasts less than 6 months and you want to be given conditions that allow you to work part-time in the UK as a student you must apply for a student visa through the British Embassy / High Commission in your home country BEFORE you travel. For further advice and information feel free to contact the International Student Advisor in Student Services.
Get contact details for referees
Most organisations require references for their volunteers. Before you come, ask three people you know well to act as referees. These should be people you've known in a professional capacity for at least two years, and who are easy to contact. You will need to bring an up to date postal and email address, phone and fax number with you for each referee.
For more information you could visit City University’s International Office web pages or contact City Volunteering or Student Services.