Volunteering with children

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If you’d like to help educate and inspire future generations, you might want to consider volunteering with children.

There are vulnerable babies and children from all corners of the world whose health, education, or general well-being is suffering. And with the right time and energy, you have the opportunity to make a real difference in their lives.

There are various ways to get involved – from volunteering with children directly to working behind the scenes for a children’s service or charity. Life experience is extremely valuable when it comes to volunteering with children – so it can be a role particularly well-suited to mature adults.

It is likely that you’ll need to undergo a DBS or disclosure check before you begin volunteering with children, but the cost of this is usually covered by whoever is employing you as a volunteer.

What sort of roles are available?

Roles working directly with children

Reading support

Organisations such as Beanstalk have people who volunteer as reading helpers – supporting children one-to-one with their literacy.

Training is provided and the role aims to give confidence to young children who may be due to start school, or who are school-age and struggling with reading.

Teaching often requires you to commit to a minimum number of hours a week for an agreed period. This helps to create a stable environment and unleash a child’s full learning potential.

Helpline volunteer

As a helpline volunteer you’ll answer calls and emails from vulnerable young people who need a listening ear, some kind words, and/or further help and support.

Charities such as NSPCC (Childline) answer calls 24 hours a day, and by giving just four hours a week as a helpline volunteer, you could make a difference in so many children’s lives.

Training is provided for sensitive roles like these, so you don’t need to worry about not knowing how to help a child at the other end of the phone.

Baby buddy

Being a baby buddy involves supporting and nurturing vulnerable babies and young children – primarily through the act of cuddling.

Human contact is important for babies with serious health conditions because it alleviates stress and aids early development.

Baby buddy roles (and roles like this), are usually offered by hospitals such as Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. They typically require a minimum of one shift per week to allow children to benefit from continuity.

Independent visitor

The role of an independent visitor is to befriend young people in care and help them develop new hobbies, skills, and interests. This could include accompanying them on outings, such as to the cinema, shopping, or to a museum.

Independent visitors are completely independent of the care system and offeryoung people time and care purely out of the goodness of their heart (as there’s no pay involved).

The National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) is always looking for volunteers, as are local councils. You can contact your local council today to find out more about available opportunities and how to apply.

Childcare/home help volunteer

With Home Start, you can support parents and help children to have happier, more fulfilled lives.

Being a home help volunteer involves helping families who are struggling in some way with their home life due to circumstances such as bereavement, mental health, or single parenting.

In most cases, you’ll spend a few hours a week engaging a family in positive activities – for example, a trip to the park or a painting session, to strengthen the bond between parent or child and/or give parents a break from the usual stresses and strains of everyday life.

You may also provide emotional support if needed. By volunteering your time to help a family in need, you could change their lives for the better.

School services volunteer

If you’re outgoing and passionate about the welfare of children, you might like to consider volunteering your time to give assemblies and workshops at schools that encourage children speak out against abuse.

Charities such as NSPCC will equip you with all the information you need for the role. You’ll usually deliver workshops and/or assemblies to at least two schools a month. Sign up today and you could make a huge difference to the lives of many children.

Additional roles supporting children’s charities and services

For more information on supporting children in behind the scenes roles, head over to our charity shop work, office & admin and fundraising pages, or explore the range of charities below.

Which UK charities can I volunteer for?

Save the Children, NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Plan International, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Teenage Cancer Trust, Children with Cancer UK, BBC Children in Need, Compassion UK, Corem Beanstalk

Volunteering in your local community

If you’d like to focus your time on working with children in your local community, it’s worth speaking to your local primary schools, nurseries and youth clubs to understand the types of opportunities available and get information on how to apply.

And finally…

If you’re interested in volunteering with children, then why not head over to the volunteering section of our site where you can browse opportunities near you?

Why volunteer later in life?

More and more people are finding satisfaction in Volunteering. Find out why you should become a volunteer and the benefits it can bring.

Find your purpose

Volunteer for a charity and you will be joining a mission to make the world a better place. Find a cause that inspires you and get started.

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