Volunteering with children and young people: Your questions answered

Thursday 26 May 2022
Teacher reading to young girl

Interested in volunteering with children? Want to make a difference in the lives of young people? Find out what you need to do to get started

How can I volunteer with children and babies?

There isn’t just one way to be a volunteer. If you'd like to volunteer with children and babies, there are lots of different roles available. Some volunteer roles directly interact with children, and others don’t.

At Action for Children, here are some of the roles we have to offer that involve working with children:

  • Children’s service volunteers: Help out at our children’s centres and services as anything from an activities assistant to offering parenting peer support.
  • Mentoring roles: Befriend a child or young person. You'll offer support where they need it most.
  • Children's mental health volunteering: Mindful star: This is our new community-based, mental health intervention. As volunteers, we'll train you to go into the schools, uniformed groups and youth groups in your local area to talk about mental health.

Children's mental health volunteering: Mindful star

This is our new community-based, mental health intervention. As volunteers, we'll train you to go into the schools, uniformed groups and youth groups in your local area to talk about mental health.

Volunteering for Action for Children for 10 & a half years has been extremely rewarding as I have been part of a fantastic team of staff & volunteers which has enabled me to help parents in my local community to establish a very successful toddler group.

Children’s centre volunteer
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Who can volunteer with children and babies?

Volunteering with children and babies is a rewarding but serious commitment – it's not suitable for everyone.

Our number one priority is keeping children safe. This is why we ask the volunteers in many of our roles to undergo a DBS check, interview and training.

What training do volunteers receive?

As a volunteer, you may need to complete some form of training before starting in the role – some roles require more extensive training than others (like our Independent Visitor role).

Training can take place in-person, or it may be an online, e-learning course. Either way, we aim to make sure all volunteers feel confident to know what you're doing – or know who to ask if not.

Some of the things you’ll be trained on include: safeguarding children and young people, health and safety and Equality and diversity.

Mark and Sheraf at the top of the O2 Arena

The training and support Mark received helped him in his role as an Independent Visitor to Sheraf, who at 12, arrived in the UK as a child refugee.

Are there opportunities for volunteering in roles that won't directly interact with children?

Yes, not all our roles interact with children. As a volunteer you could be one of the following:

You can help out at one-off activities and events like the Boycott Your Bed or the London Marathon.

Raise money and awareness about AFC in your communities.

Why not join – or make your own – Action Squad? These are groups of volunteers, who hold events and represent Action for Children at local third-party events to raise money.

Get involved in office-based work behind the scenes. You'll be helping our central service teams, like fundraising, with business support and admin.

How do I find volunteer work near me?

All our roles are advertised on our volunteering database BetterImpact. You can search for roles near you – we have a vast range across the country.

When looking for a role, think about what interests you – what skills and experience you have to offer and where would you like to grow?

How old do I have to be to volunteer with children?

We have a range of ages volunteering with us – from students to retired adults.

We have roles for under 18s to help out in all sorts of thing. Our youth volunteers have to be at least 14, but some of our roles need to be 16+ at least.

Kelvin and Heather smiling at the camera standing in their garden

Heather and Kelvin volunteer as part of Action for Children’s work tackling youth homelessness,

Do volunteers get paid?

Volunteers are unpaid, but can claim back out of pocket expenses (like food and travel) during the course of their volunteering.

What are my rights as a volunteer?

Even though you're not getting paid, you should still expect some support from your manager or coordinator as volunteer.

  • Volunteers working 1-1 with children will have regular supervision sessions to plan their work and for direct ongoing support.
  • Volunteers who do not directly 1-1 work with children will still receive supervision, but on a less regular basis.

I have always felt as more than 'just a volunteer' and feel my voice is valued and listened to.

Anonymous volunteer

How long can I volunteer for?

Volunteers are often able to decide the level of commitment they contribute.

Think about how long you’d like to commit when considering what you’d like to do.

  • Will you only be available on certain days or at certain times or can you be flexible?
  • Will you be available for a regular commitment or on an ad-hoc basis?

Some roles (like a mentor role) require a longer commitment for volunteering for example a 2-year period due to the relationships being built up with a particular child.

Why volunteer?

Volunteering is rewarding and has many benefits. Our volunteers have joined us for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Gaining skills and experience (which can lead to a job).
  • Making a difference in your local community.
  • Supporting a cause, you care about.
  • Meeting likeminded people.

How can I support children and young people without volunteering?

If you volunteering isn’t for you, there are other ways to make a difference in the lives of children and young people:

Ready to start volunteering?

We have an incredible range of volunteer opportunities at Action for Children. Every single one of our volunteers makes a huge difference. Join us to help us give more vulnerable children in the UK a safe and happy childhood.

90% of our volunteers said they would recommend volunteering with Action for Children to a friend.

You will get new experiences, make new friendships, get excellent training and be supported by an amazing team at Action for Children.

Mark, Independent Visitor
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