Open navigation

What does volunteer work consist of?

Volunteers can be found everywhere – in your local community centres, schools, day centres for the elderly, churches, clubs, associations, and local museums. Your next-door neighbour could even have a volunteer to help them at home. But there is more to it than that; think of nature and environmental activities, interest groups, and even guided holiday tours.

What is volunteer work not?

That can be difficult to say. Generally speaking, volunteer work is defined as work that is not compulsory and is unpaid, done for the benefit of other people or wider society. Work that used to be paid but is now unpaid cannot be described as volunteer work. Social attitudes to this could well change, though.

Are there any criteria for what is and is not classed as volunteer work?

Volunteer work is work that is of a general or specific benefit to society. It may not distort competition (e.g. by carrying out building maintenance) or seek to make a profit. A volunteer role may also not be at the expense of a paid job on the labour market. It must be supplementary instead. If the volunteer were to stop working, it should not cause any considerable problems.

Are there any opportunities for volunteer work abroad?

During holiday periods, there is a range of opportunities to do volunteer work abroad, whether alone or as part of a group. Various organizations arrange holiday weeks for people with illnesses or disabilities, the elderly, or children, who need other people to support them. There are also opportunities with organizations that specialize in work abroad. Go online to find websites with more specific information on volunteering abroad.

Can someone carry out volunteer work in the same organization where they do paid work?

Absolutely! But it is important to ensure that the volunteer work is substantially different from the paid work. If someone works as a nurse in a care home but also volunteers to help with a weekly games afternoon, that is not a problem. The same goes for a teacher who runs an adults’ drama group in the evening. A volunteer contract which contains the tasks that the volunteer will carry out is a good way to prevent misunderstandings.