On this page you can find out more about each of the different volunteering and voluntary work opportunities available to you.

Volunteering and voluntary work

Volunteering relates to prosocial activities you do by choice and is open to all students. You can volunteer, as and when you choose to, and are not paid for your efforts. However, charities advertising vacancies through our Volunteering Service, are still expected to cover costs for volunteers, like your travel and lunch. There is no limit to the hours that you can volunteer. This is not the case with voluntary work however.

Voluntary work is a more formal, contract-based contribution made to a charitable organisation, usually with fixed working hours and responsibilities. Although voluntary workers do not receive formal pay, they usually receive a higher level of support and training. 

Here is a simple diagram which explains the differences:



Different forms of volunteering

University roles

Within the University, there are always plenty of opportunities to volunteer – whether through a specific college, Student Union societies, social enterprise projects or one-off events.

External roles

Volunteering Services has links with over 300 charities, and through our Engage platform over 700 students found volunteer roles last year across the third sector. Roles often assist charities, though may also serve public/community initiatives like local schools.

Regular volunteering

For some, volunteering with a charity may be on a one-off basis, whereas others may carry on for a bit longer, perhaps a few weeks or months, and on specific days.

Work placements

Similar to work experience, but typically arranged through your college as part of a work-based learning module. Find out more about Work Placements.

Student-led and live projects

If you’ve got your own ideas for a socially beneficial project of some kind, we would love to help you develop this. There are also plenty of shorter-term live projects which will allow you to get involved with existing projects, for example building apps for a local charity.

Volunteering abroad

You can also travel abroad during your studies to take part in volunteering, find out more about overseas volunteering or contact the Student Mobility Team.

Social enterprise

The Student Volunteering Service finds vacancies each year from social enterprises. These are businesses whose main aim is to respond to a social problem, for example an eco-friendly bike scheme. Social enterprises offer dynamic experience for students to contribute to your specialist skills, so keep an eye on Engage to see what’s available.

If you have a social enterprise idea that you would like to explore, please get in touch at [email protected]

Volunteering benefits

When we give some of our time, skill and energy as volunteers, we not only help valuable causes and people around us, we also take away plenty of invaluable experience from our activities:

  • Gain confidence
  • Make a difference in the community
  • Develop new contacts/friends
  • Learn new life and professional skills
  • Take on a challenge
  • Have fun!

Read about Giorgio's volunteering journey.


Get in touch

The Careers and Employability Service advertises a variety of volunteering opportunities on Engage. If you would like to discuss the areas of your skills and experiences that you need to develop and how and where volunteering might come in handy, please book an appointment with a member of the Careers and Employability Service via Engage. Alternatively, you can email your queries to [email protected]