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International Volunteering

Experience a new culture, improve employability and have an adventure of a lifetime

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If our team-volunteering experiences are not for you and you want to go it alone there is a whole planet-full of great volunteering opportunities to choose from. However choosing can be very difficult as you will no-doubt be putting a lot of time, money and emotional investment into your volunteering so you want to get it right and have the time of your life. It is important that you feel confident in your choice and that you will be supported so here is some information that will get you started.

Plus Icon What is the Independent International Volunteering Bursary? 

Students can apply for independent funding for their costs incurred to participate in an overseas volunteer programme. Bursaries of up to £200 per student can be allocated for the purpose of this agreement we define costs as project-related costs such as flights, local transport, meals, pre-trip preparations including vaccinations, medicines and training.

All students that are awarded the bursary will also be issued for University travel insurance*. Please note this is only valid for the country student will volunteer in.

*Subject to conditions

Please note you are not eligible for funding if you have already received assistance with costs through the University’s International Volunteering programme.

Plus Icon Apply for a Bursary now!
  • Complete the Independent International Volunteering Bursary application form and email it to volunteering@leedsbeckett.ac.uk
  • The funding will be allocated on a case by case basis and the final decision will be made by Leeds Beckett staff within the International Office using a set criteria.
  • You will be notified if you have been awarded the bursary within 4-6 weeks of receipt of the application.
  • Bursary’s will be paid directly to the student bank account and details must be forwarded from a Leeds Beckett student email address.
  • The funding is subject to full completion of the following documents:
    1. Certificate of attendance signed by host organisation
    2. 200 word reflection with 2-3 photos
    3. Completion of post-trip feedback form
  • There is no deadline, but please note that  funds will be awarded on a first come first serve basis until the fund allocation has been exhausted.
  • Independent International Volunteering Bursary application form
Where you choose to independently arrange volunteering it is your responsibility to research your chosen charity or community organisation and to satisfy yourself that it offers safe, supportive and ethically sound volunteering opportunities and that the organisation providing such opportunities meets the necessary professional standards to be expected of a professional charity or community organisation. Please note that Leeds Beckett University cannot accept any responsibility for any financial or personal loss suffered by you where you have made independent volunteering arrangements. Leeds Beckett University encourages staff and students to engage in rewarding and fulfilling volunteering opportunities and offers a variety of organised trips through Exchanges, Study Abroad and the Volunteering team at Leeds Beckett University.
Plus Icon Doing your research about the charity or community organisation

There are many things to research about the organisation you are considering signing up with, whether you are going directly to an overseas organisation or signing up through an organisation which will help place you. Here are the top 10 questions to ask yourself while you are doing your research and if you can't find what you are looking for on the organisation's website you can always ask them directly (bearing in mind that they will be very busy so don't ask before you've looked for yourself!) 

  1. What does the work involve and is there a role description for volunteers?
  2. Who decides what I will be doing?
  3. What’s the aim of the charity or community organisation?
  4. Who runs the charity or organisation?
  5. Is the project sustainable, ethical and do the values match your own?
  6. Do they have volunteers all the time?
  7. Who will support me before I go and when I get there?
  8. Will I be given all the training I need?
  9. How will my money be spent?
  10. Can I contact previous volunteers about their experiences or local people who I will be working with? 
Plus Icon What kind of volunteering is right for you?

Each volunteering project will be different so you need to think about what kind of experience you would like to have. A place to start is to ask yourself why you want to volunteer, are the aims of the organisation the most important to you or are you more motivated by the actual tasks and how you will be spending your days.  

Each project will need different levels of commitment (before and during your time abroad) and experience. Also different organisations provide different levels of support. Would you prefer to be somewhere where there are other volunteers from a similar background to you or would you rather things were as different as they could be? 

Plus Icon Things you may need to factor in or organise before your volunteering project
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
  • Vaccinations
  • Living costs
  • Visas 
  • Insurance
  • Transport when you are in country
  • Police check or a DBS certificate
  • Special equipment or clothing
  • Making time for all the necessary preparation and training
Plus Icon Making sure you will have all the support you need

Each project will have different levels of support. Usually you'll have the support and guidance you need to prepare for your adventure and the organisation should be able to give you a name and contact details for someone where you will be volunteering who you can turn to for advice once you get there. This may be someone who works for the charity, a member of the local community who is helping the project or a more experienced volunteer. It’s good to be as independent as possible, but as with all volunteering projects, things may not always go according to plan and it’s great to know you have someone you can turn to ask advice about the best way forward. 

Plus Icon Country/Area specific research

A lot of the thinking or research you need to do for your time away will be to do with your actual destination i.e. the country and what life is like in that particular area. Here are some pointers: 

  • Will it be safe? The Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advise website is a great place to start and you can search for advice about specific countries as well as getting general travel advice.
  • Where will you live? Is accommodation included in the project or can they suggest somewhere that is cost effective and safe.
  • Whilst you’re away, what is the best way to get around? Is there a local public transport system and is it safe for you to use?
  • Are you arriving at a good time? It’s best not to arrive into a new country on a national holiday day, as many people will not be working and you could find yourself struggling to get transport or to contact people.
  • What cultural differences do you need to be aware of? Including your behaviour, etiquette or clothing or behaviours or attitudes of others that might be a surprise to you.
  • What 's the food like? If you have specific tastes or dietary requirements you will need to know what's available.
  • Your health and safety. Will you have access to medical help if you need it and if you have any existing health issues, will you be ok? E.g. if you are on medication that needs to be kept cool? Will you have to take enough of your prescription medication for the whole time. Do you have a condition that is incompatible with the work? 

Our Volunteering Story

Find out more about volunteering and hear stories of those who have previously volunteered.

Why volunteer?

Top Reasons to Volunteer

  1. 1Build your resilience
  2. 2Challenge yourself
  3. 3Experience different cultures
  4. 4Get to know yourself better
  1. 5Give something back
  2. 6Get practical experience in your chosen field
  3. 7Make friends for life
  4. 8Travel

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