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International Volunteering

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

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For volunteers under 30 there is significant funding available for the Erasmus+ programme. Depending on how careful you are with money, it should cover most if not all the volunteering- related costs. Exact grant amounts are calculated according to the exact number of days spent volunteering, plus the distance you are travelling.

Erasmus+ has held a long commitment to supporting volunteering opportunities for young people and mobility across borders. Starting in 1996, the European Voluntary Service has allowed more than 100 000 young people to go abroad and gain a life changing experience as a volunteer.

The reason for this commitment is that Erasmus+ values volunteering as a non-formal learning experience enhancing volunteers' professional skills and competences, thus contributing to their employability. At the same time, it increases their sense of solidarity, develops their social skills and promotes active participation in society. It is a win-win situation, where both the volunteer and the community benefit.

Plus Icon What is the Independent International Volunteering Bursary? 

Students can apply for our Independent International Volunteering Bursary (IIVB) funding to assist with costs incurred to participate in an overseas volunteer programme.

We allocate bursaries of up to 10% of your overall costs of your international volunteering. You will be asked to clarify and prove the following during the application process.

  1. Is the volunteering organisation not for profit?
  2. Who are you volunteering with?
  3. Date of proposed volunteering (we will use these dates to get an approx.cost for a flight)
  4. What are the total costs of volunteering (project fees, accommodation and visas)

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

Travel Insurance: we have been advised by our insurance team that can no longer cover students who arrange their own volunteering trips as we are unable to verify that the trip meets our safety requirements. Therefore please ensure that you factor in the cost of travel insurance for your trip.
Plus Icon Apply for a Bursary now!
  • Complete the Independent International Volunteering Bursary application form and email it to volunteering@leedsbeckett.ac.uk
  • Each application will be reviewed to ensure it meets our criteria and the final decision will be made by Leeds Beckett staff within the International Office.
  • You will be notified if you have been awarded the bursary within 4-6 weeks of receipt of the application.
  • Funding 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:
    • Certificate of attendance signed by host organisation
    • 500 word reflection and completed post-trip feedback form
    • 2-3 photos
  • There is no deadline, but please note that  funds will be awarded on a first come first serve basis until the annual fund allocation has been exhausted.

By choosing to volunteer independently, 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 meets the necessary professional standards to be expected of a professional charity or community organisation. We will assist you where possible, using feedback gathered from previous IIVB students.

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 your chosen organisation, whether you are going directly to an overseas organisation or signing up via a third-party which promotes various opportunities.

Below are 10 questions to consider before selecting an organisation. 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-year round?
  7. Who will support me before I go and when I get there?
  8. Will I be given all the training I need?
  9. If there is a participation fee, 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 good starting point is to consider why you want to volunteer and to determine whether the aims of the organisation are important to you, or whether you are more focused on the type of activities you will be involved with on a daily basis? 

Whatever your chosen organisation, the level of support and commitment required from you will be different. You may be required to undertake fundraising with a specific target which can be time-consuming but worthwhile. Organisations will provide varying levels of support, with some unable to interact with you until you are overseas. Things to consider include whether you would like to share your experience with other volunteers, be in a remote area or would rather be with creature comforts. Ask around and find out whether a friend can recommend an organisation they have volunteered with.


Plus Icon Things you may need to consider before committing to a project
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
  • Vaccinations Essential and recommended 
  • Living costs 
  • Visas - Are you eligible? Can you apply before on on arrival? Cost? Duration?
  • Travel insurance Are you going to be bungee-jumping, hiking, elephant-riding? Check your activities will be covered.
  • Local transport
  • Police check or a DBS certificate If working with children, do you require certification?
  • Special equipment or clothing
  • Time Management preparation, training and fundraising 
Plus Icon Making sure you will have all the support you need

Each organisation will provide varying 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 a local contact 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

International Volunteering

Students at accommodation

of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without

Students at accommodation

of employers believe that volunteering can add to skills


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