As well as being incredibly rewarding, volunteering with children can open doors to a variety of careers. Learn more about available opportunities both at home and abroad
However, if you're looking for more specific ideas, a number of children's charities rely on the help of volunteers.
1. Help at a children's centre with Action for Children
Action for Children helps thousands of babies, children, and families across the UK. The charity's aim is to give children and young people the practical and emotional support they need to help them succeed. The charity works with disabled children and their families, young carers, teenage mothers, and those in the care system.
There are several ways that volunteers can get involved; one of the easiest ways is to assist staff at one of the charity's children's centres across the UK. As a children's centre volunteer, you could take part in stay-and-play sessions, assist with child and family health services, participate in speech and language support programmes, or help to maintain and develop centre's social media presence.
2. Answer Childline phones with the NSPCC
For years Childline has been helping children and young people in the UK, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but they currently only have the capacity to answer three out of every four calls from children in need. This is where volunteers can help.
Giving just four hours of your time per week could ensure that every child receives the listening ear they deserve. As a volunteer counsellor you'll be trained to offer comfort, support, and practical advice to young callers. You can also help as an administrator, email counsellor or switchboard volunteer.
3. Become a youth activities volunteer with Whizz Kidz
Whizz Kidz provides disabled children and young people with the mobility equipment they need and supports them in learning essential life skills.
Youth activities volunteer positions are available across the UK and typically require you to give up one day each month. You'll support wheelchair users aged 8 to 25 in a range of activities, across a variety of services including wheelchair skills training, ambassador clubs and Camp Whizz Kidz. You'll ensure all young people are engaged and safe and deliver fun and empowering activities. You'll need enthusiasm and confidence, as well as a flexible and creative approach to working with young people.
Other volunteering options include helping at events or becoming a wheelchair skills training volunteer.
4. Befriend a child with Barnado's
As one of the UK's leading children's charities Barnado's helps to transform the lives of some of the country's most vulnerable children.
As a befriender you'll dedicate three to five hours on a weekly or fortnightly basis to act as a companion to a child or young person and provide a listening ear. You could ensure that your new friend enjoys some much-needed leisure time by taking them to the park, cinema, bowling or a museum, or you could provide more practical support by helping with homework or transporting the young person to group activities. Befriending services usually take place on the evenings or at weekends.
Other ways to volunteer with children at Barnado's include helping at a local play scheme, offering young asylum seekers the chance to learn and practice English and running local youth groups for disabled teenagers.
5. Provide academic support with Action Tutoring
A charity that supports pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve a meaningful level of academic attainment, Action Tutoring supported 5,528 pupils across the country in 2020/21 through 31,763 tutoring sessions. Over 2,700 volunteers supported their work in 2020/21 and you could join their ranks to help improve the prospects of future generations.
As an Action Tutoring volunteer, you can give your time either in person or online to help pupils improve their English and maths abilities. By giving just one hour a week you can make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged children living in your area.
6. Support early childhood development in Sri Lanka
If you would like to volunteer with children further afield and combine your passion for working with young people with your love of travelling there's an array of opportunities available. Before committing to an overseas volunteer project check the latest travel advice at GOV.UK Foreign travel advice.
Working in Sir Lanka with Projects Abroad, you'll work in kindergartens, day care and community centres and help staff with their day-to-day duties. You'll arrange and carry out fun activities to promote early childhood development, provide specialised care to children with special needs and create educational resources.
Based in the Sir Lankan town of Colombo you'll live with a host family.
7. Care for disadvantaged children in India
India struggles to care for the increasing number of children born into poverty; because of this the country is home to thousands of vulnerable young people. As a Kaya volunteer you'll work to develop the cognitive, academic, emotional and social skills of children by assisting local educators with their day-to-day activities.
Working in schools, day-care centres or schools for children with learning disabilities you'll teach basic English and maths skills, lead songs and rhymes, play games, undertake outdoor activities and monitor child development. You'll complete weekly progress reports for each child and attend volunteer meetings.
You’ll be based in Jaipur, known as the Pink City.
Learn more about working in India.
8. Work on community projects in Ghana
Based two and a half hours from the capital city of Accra, Pod Volunteer gives you the opportunity to get stuck in to community projects that directly benefit children in Ghana.
As a volunteer you'll be involved in building a brighter future some of the poorest communities. Living and working with locals you'll get stuck in to a number of projects including delivering solar lamps to children in remote communities, giving children in isolated communities access to bicycles so they can get to school, helping after school clubs, promoting hygiene initiatives in schools to prevent illness and coaching sports such as football and volleyball.
You'll usually work five days a week and enjoy two days off. In your spare time you can experience Ghanaian life and culture and visit local sights including waterfalls, national parks and vibrant markets.
9. Support childhood development and improve literacy in Jamaica
Located in Mandeville and staying with a local host family you'll work with teachers and caregivers at disadvantaged day-care centres, kindergartens or special needs centres. On this specific Projects Abroad programme you'll create learning materials and engage in educational activities to help children practice their reading and writing.
You'll work Monday to Friday, typically for five to six hours a day. You'll spend your evenings with your host family and your free time exploring local beaches and waterfalls. The organisation also run regular socials for volunteers to meet up.
10. Provide youth support in Rome
In disadvantaged areas of Rome lots of young people don’t have access to after-school activities such as after-school clubs, homework support or the resources to learn English leading to unequal opportunities in later life.
As a youth support volunteer for International Volunteer HQ you'll create and implement new extra-curricular activities, teach sports, music, languages and/or arts and crafts all while providing a safe space for the marginalised youth.
You'll spend three hours a day volunteering and the rest of your time is free to plan social activities or to take advantage of the Italian language lessons provided. Volunteers also enjoy weekends off duty, so you'll have plenty of time to explore this culturally-rich country. You'll be free to visit historical sites, drink espresso and sample the world-famous cuisine. What's more, Rome is home to the Colosseum, Vatican and Sistine Chapel.
Discover what it's like to work in Italy.
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