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Getting started with Volunteering

As a volunteer, you’ll be developing new skills, making new social contacts, and broadening your horizons.

The vast majority of our volunteering opportunities are virtual at the moment - we’ve worked closely with our charity partners to develop their online volunteering offer - and every single role you see on our directory has been vetted and pre-approved by our team.

75% of our volunteers said their happiness and general well-being had improved because of their involvement in volunteering opportunities, and 84% said that they felt more confident in their own abilities.

Other studies have found similar results. A review of research by The University of Wales found that volunteering can reduce depression, stress and psychological distress, amongst other health benefits. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau found that 3 in 5 of their volunteers felt less stressed as a result of volunteering, and 4 in 5 said it had improved their physical or mental well-being.

Research carried out at the University of British Columbia has suggested that volunteering can improve indicators of cardiovascular health such as cholesterol levels.

And Justin-Davis Smith from NCVO has written an excellent blog about volunteering and happiness.

The NHS recommends volunteering and other acts of kindness to others as one of it’s 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing.

What UCL students say:

Lara Parienti is studies BSc Applied Medical Sciences student and is a Patient Anti-Boredom Volunteer at the UCH Cancer Centre: “ You take a break from your own life and everything that’s going on, and you just think about other people. 

Matthew Appleton is a BSc Geography student, and a volunteer befriender for Holborn Community Association: ”The nicest thing is the friendship developed - for instance exchanging cards at Christmas and getting coffees together, makes you feel that you’ve gained a friend as well as gaining volunteering experience.”

Sarah Wong is a medical student, and volunteers as a Mentor at the Refugee Therapy Centre in Holloway: ”It’s such a good opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds and really learn how to appreciate the things we take for granted, to gain insight into things that usually escape us.”

Tara Nelson is in her first year studying BASc Arts and Sciences. She volunteered for Action Against Hunger and UCL’s Dance Society’s charity showcase: “When you do it you’re never tired; you remember why you’re there, you’re doing it for a good cause, and the exhaustion only hits when you get home, and it’s more like a buzz to know you’ve done something useful with your Friday night, and you can tell your flatmates about it. I think it’s just the feeling you get with volunteering, there’s nothing else you can really do to get that feeling.”

How to get involved

The Volunteering Service makes it as easy as possible to volunteer, and we have a wide range of opportunities available. To find out how to get involved, visit our ‘Getting Started’ page.