If you are interested in volunteering there are plenty of options available to you around the country. Volunteering is a great opportunity to take part in your local community or further afield while learning new skills and meeting new people. You can find volunteering opporuntites through agencies or search yourself for opportunities in your local area such as in GAA or sports clubs, with homeless charities or animal shelters.
For more information on the benefits of volunteering click here.
How to decide where you want to volunteer
When deciding what sort of group or charity you would like to volunteer with you should ask yourself what you feel passionate about and also what skills you think you have to offer. You may have used a charity service before and want to give something back to them or are studying or working in an area and have knowledge or skills that you can contribute.
If you already know the charity that you would like to volunteer with then you should check on their website for opportunities to volunteer. If they do not advertise for volunteers do not let that stop you from getting in touch. Send an email introducing yourself and explaining your reasons for wanting to work with the charity. It is also a good idea to attach a copy of your CV which outlines the skills you have to offer. If you do not hear anything back from them after two weeks but are still interested in volunteering it is a good idea to send a follow up email or to call. Many charities are understaffed and may not have the resources to respond to you as quickly as you might want so do not let a delay in hearing back from them stop you from pursuing the opportunity to volunteer.
Things to consider before volunteering
How much time can I give?
When deciding what type of organisation you would like to volunteer with it is important to consider the amount of time that you will be able to give. Certain volunteer organisations will need you to be able to commit to specific times for clubs and groups and others may be more flexible and only need you for special occasions. Regardless of who you volunteer with it is important not to over commit yourself at the beginning in case you are not able to give as much of your time as you thought and end up letting the organisation down.
If you decide to work with children it is also important to remember that you will need to get Garda vetting in order to do so. Garda vetting in the process where the Gardaí will do a background check on you to see if you have a criminal record. The group that you want to volunteer with will normally send you the Garda vetting form to fill in and you will then have to send it back to them along with proof of I.D. Most organisations will ask for at least two of the following: a passport, a driver’s license, proof of address or other reliable identification. They will then submit it to the Gardaí on your behalf and you should receive an e-vetting invite via email within a few weeks at the most.
When choosing the charity or organisation you would like to volunteer with it is also important to consider if you will be able to get to their premises or the area where they will expect you to volunteer easily. It can be difficult to volunteer with certain organisations if you do not have a car as your communte could become expensive and time consuming. Before you commit to a group google map the route you will take when volunteering with them and see what public transport will be available to you and if it is time efficient.
Getting involved in volunteering
If you think you would like to volunteer but do not have a specific charity in mind there are several resources online that can help choose the right one for you.
Volunteer Ireland is the national volunteer development agency and a support body for all local Volunteer Centres and Volunteering Information Services in Ireland. Their goal is to make sure that everyone who wants to volunteer, can volunteer. On their site you can register your interest to volunteer and narrow your search through location and area of interest. For more information on Volunteer Ireland click here.
Active Link is an online network for Irish community and non-profit organisations and people interested in volunteering. They provide information on jobs, tenders, volunteering, events, fundraising, training, publications and funding in the charity and not for profit sector. On their site you can search for volunteering opportunities to suit you. For more information on Active Link click here.
European Solidarity Corps
The European Solidarity Corps funds and supports young people aged 18-30 to take part in volunteering projects at home or abroad. If you are up for a challenge and willing to dedicate yourself to helping others, you can register your details on the online portal. You will be asked for some basic personal information like your name, age and email address. You then select the ‘Volunteering’ option, and choose what kinds of projects or themes you are interested in. This could be youth work, environmental issues, arts, drama or culture. Organisations that run European Solidarity Corps projects can search the portal to find potential volunteers. You do not have to agree to take up a position offered by an organisation: the decision is up to you.
Volunteering placements are full-time (30-38 hours per week) and can last from two months to twelve months. In some cases, you can volunteer for a shorter period of two weeks to two months. Volunteering in a European Solidarity Corps project in another country is an opportunity to express your personal commitment through voluntary work. Take time to think about whether or not volunteering abroad is right for you. For more information, visit the European Solidarity Corps website.
Travelling to Ireland to volunteer
If you are over 18 and are interested in volunteering in Ireland you are eligible to volunteer without a visa if you are a EU/EEA citizen.
If you are not one of these and want to come to Ireland to volunteer for a period of longer than three months you need to get a volunteer visa. A volunteer visa allows you to volunteer in Ireland for a period of 12 to a maximum of 24 months and can choose to split your time into two periods of 12 months.You need to have preclearance to volunteer in Ireland before you come to the country and cannot apply for a visa if you already live here.
You are eligible to volunteer in Ireland if:
- You are aged 18 or older
- Have been offered volunteering work by an eligible organisation
- Can be fully supported financially for the entire duration of your stay by the organisation that is inviting you to Ireland
- Are qualified and able to do the activities expected of you
- If you can provide a police clearance certificate or equivalent not more than 3 months old
- Are cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults (if necessary for your role),
- Have medical insurance from a company authorised by the Health Insurance Authority of Ireland to cover you for the duration of your stay.
For more information on volunteering in Ireland click here.
Volunteer with SpunOut.ie
If you would like to volunteer but do not have a lot of free time to offer you can volunteer from home with SpunOut.ie. We are continually looking for volunteers between the ages of 16-25 to contribute content to the site as well as proof read SpunOut.ie factsheets for us. If you are interested in writing for us you can contribute on any topic that you think affects young people. Our Skills Development Officer, Heather Barry, will work with you to help edit your article and upload it to the site. By writing about your experiences and sharing them through SpunOut.ie you can help other young people who may be going through similar experiences as you in school or college, their relationships or personal development. By proof reading our factsheets you ensure that our articles are accessible to young people, are clearly written and structured and cover the topics that are important. If you are considering volunteering with us send an email to [email protected] and you can talk to her about your content ideas and sign up to become a proofreader.
Find out more about the many ways that you can get involved with SpunOut.ie.
Need more information?
We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.