Volunteering for Crisis Response Charities

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A crisis can be anything from a natural disaster to war, or human trafficking. Crisis response charities support people in emergency situations, providing them with the care and support they need to get them through whatever difficult situation they are in.

You may want to support a crisis response charity in a local setting by supporting refugees or providing first aid at events. Or, for the truly bold, you may want to travel to countries in crisis situations, for example volunteering to provide food and blankets to countries devastated by earthquakes or tsunamis. Volunteering overseas for a crisis response charity is not for the faint hearted, but it will give you an overwhelming sense of fulfilment and an opportunity to immerse yourself in vastly different cultures and experiences.

What sort of roles are available?

First Aid

first aid

British Red Cross offer volunteers advanced group training in first aid. Voluntary first aiders will attend events all over the UK helping those who are ill or injured. This role asks for a high level of commitment (ongoing training and help at short notice), but returns a high level of satisfaction and achievement. The skill and knowledge you will hold as a first aider could save many lives.

Emergency response

Emergency response volunteers provide practical and emotional support to those in need, during and after a disaster has occurred (fires, flooding etc). You may support people by comforting them, providing them with temporary relief e.g. food and clothes and ensuring they are directed to the correct services to help them get back on their feet. Training is usually provided and the role is carried out on an optional basis as and when disasters occur.

Map Creator

Crisis response charities including British Red Cross and MSF founded the Missing Maps charity.  It encourages volunteers from around the world to sign up and create detailed maps of unmapped yet vulnerable areas of the world, where natural disasters or emergencies are likely to occur. These maps play a key role in crisis response missions and will help save lives. Full training is provided through online tutorials and mapping events, and you can get involved as little or as much as you wish.


Fundraising is one of best ways you can support a crisis response charity and it’s up to you to decide how you go about it.  For example, you can take to the streets in your local community with a team of other volunteers and encourage passers by to donate to your chosen charity, or you might want to host a community event such as a bake sale where all money raised goes to charity (the Disaster Emergency Committee has helpful guides on how you can do this). Fundraising is low commitment because you usually take part in a one off event. For more information on how you can raise money for your favourite charity, please visit our Fundraising page.

Additional roles supporting crisis response charities

For more opportunities to work abroad in this field, please visit our Volunteer Abroad section.

Which charities can I support?

Red Cross, Disasters Emergency Committee, Shelter Box, Missing Maps, St John’s Ambulance

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