Volunteering for international students

Volunteering is a great way to supplement your studies whilst at university. There’s something for everyone, whatever your interests, skills and availability.

Does my visa allow me to volunteer?

As an international student, you can complete your volunteering without restriction in the UK. And, unlike unpaid employment, volunteering doesn’t count towards your working hours. If you have any questions, please contact via visa@manchester.ac.uk.

What is a DBS check?

Opportunities volunteering with children or vulnerable adults may need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to find out if a potential volunteer has a criminal record. These can be hard to get if you’ve not been in the UK very long. The organisation you’re volunteering for should organise the check for you.  

You’ll need a National Insurance (NI) number to complete the form. If you don’t already have one, you can apply by phone or in person at a Jobcentre Plus (full details on the UK Government website). You don’t need to complete the employer’s declaration if you are volunteering.

You may also need a Certificate of Good Conduct from your home country (full details on what documents you need from each country are on the UK Government website).  

However, don’t let this put you off – the Volunteering and Community Engagement Team is happy to support you through the process and there are lots of volunteering opportunities that don’t require a DBS check.

English isn’t my first language

Volunteering is a great way to practise speaking English. If you’re nervous, tell the organisation or speak to the Volunteering Team about your concerns. And you could always volunteer with a friend!

I don’t have much time

Volunteering is completely flexible, so you can fit it in around your other commitments. Look out for Volunteer Days – one off opportunities from the Volunteering Team, where you can try out different types of volunteering.

Do I need experience to volunteer?

No. Volunteering is a great way to develop new skills and, as an international student, you’ll bring a unique perspective to the organisation.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about volunteering, please contact the Volunteering and Community Engagement Team via volunteers@manchester.ac.uk or phoning on 07810098834.

Alternatively you can come to a digital volunteer drop-in session. These take place during Semester time on either Mondays from 12 noon to 1pm or Wednesdays from 4pm to 5pm.

The Volunteer drop-in sessions will take place virtually via Zoom. The Zoom meeting ID to access the drop-in: 972 5532 9897.

Please note that during the Zoom drop-in, your volunteering consultation will just be between you and a member of the University's Volunteering Team. Therefore when you access the Zoom drop-ins you may be placed in a waiting room if another student is having a drop-in volunteering consultation before you. This will only be a short wait and a member of the University's Volunteering Team will meet with you soon after.

Bokyung (above) from South Korea, volunteers with Enactus and Multilingual Manchester, opportunities she found through the Volunteering Fair in her first year. Both projects focus on improving the participants’ spoken English, which fits well with Bokyung’s discipline, Linguistics.

Volunteering has had so many positive impacts that I didn’t expect. One of the best things about volunteering is that it works two-ways. Volunteers help other people, but I have also gained skills from volunteering, including one that I really appreciated – time management! I can now use my time effectively, so I can balance my social life, volunteering and studying.

Bokyung Kim