Volunteering is great: you’re out the house, meeting new people and you’ll feel great about yourself. What’s not to love?
As Student Volunteering Week kicks off, now’s a great time to plan how you can get involved. Even better, some volunteering spots can earn you some pretty cool freebies too, such as these…
Lend a hand at a festival
If the idea of crawling out a tent at 5am to slop eggs on to muddy festival-goer’s plates doesn’t make you run for the portaloos screaming, you might be the ideal candidate to help at a festival this summer.
There are numerous websites where you can apply – just be aware that the most popular (eg Glastonbury) will fill up the quickest.
You’ll need £200-ish on hand to pay a deposit up front, as this gives the organisers peace of mind that you won’t disappear into a sea of dancers once you arrive.
Stick to your shifts and show up on time, and your money will be refunded after the festival. You’ll need to bring a little cash for spending money, and won’t necessarily get to see ALL of the music, but you’re still getting a taste of the action for a fraction of the cost.
Join a ‘Green Gym’
Gym memberships are pricey, and aren’t always affordable on a student or graduate-job budget... but Green Gyms get you into the great outdoors, getting exercise by doing useful physical jobs.
When you arrive, experienced leaders will take you through a warm-up, just like any normal exercise class. But you’ll then be guided through a range of practical projects, dealing with manual jobs while getting plenty of fresh air.
The gyms are based all over the country; joining one can improve your strength and stamina (as well as your practical skills and confidence) as well as benefitting your local green spaces.
Help out with an ‘obstacle race’
Fitness enthusiasts with a competitive streak, this one’s for you. If you fancy taking part in a Tough Mudder or another obstacle race, but can’t spare the £30-80 entry fee, becoming a steward for the day could sort you out.
The right attitude and a great sense of humour is all that’s needed – watching people struggle and slide in mud will undoubtedly crack you up, but you will need to offer a little support and encouragement too!
Many events, such as the Warrior Run or Spartan Race, allow you to enter for free on a different day, and even let you transfer your freebie to a friend if you’re feeling generous (or unfit).
Alternatively, help at charity runs like Cancer Research’s Race for Life – you can offer support and be part of the day without the exercise, and you’ll still get a free t-shirt and light refreshments for your trouble.
Take a free holiday
If you fancy exchanging the grey skies of the English summer for warmer climates, charities like the RSPB have numerous reserves overseas where you spend a week or more as a volunteer, in exchange for free accommodation on-site.
You’ll be kept busy clearing paths, leading walks or carrying out wildlife surveys; doing your bit for nature while you enjoy the sun and scenery. Other charities, such as ICS, will fly you overseas and put you up with a local ‘host’ family for 10-12 weeks, in exchange for a bit of fundraising beforehand and time spent working with a less-fortunate community.
There are plenty of charities that offer similar opportunities, and they’re a great opportunity to travel and explore different countries while also helping out others.
Become an usher or tour guide
If you love live events but can’t commit to a week away at a festival, why not give up a few free evenings instead?
Volunteering at a local music venue or theatre will allow you to see live performances for free on a regular basis. Be prepared to be on your feet for several hours as you hand out programmes, serve drinks or show people to their seats: it’ll be worth it once the show starts!
If you’re more of a culture vulture, try your local museums. Many are eager for helpers to show visitors around or staff the information desk. You’ll then be free to roam around the museum in your spare time, get friends or family members in for free and maybe even get discounts on the café’s food.
And if you want to do something really cool...
... become a member of TSR's Support Team. You'll spend a lot of time on the site (if you don't already) but will be helping out the Community Team, creating content and just ensuring the smooth running of the good ship TSR.
In return - other than being part of a friendly and fun team - you'll also get whisked away to Centre Parcs for a summer team holiday, an opportunity to come and party in TSR Headquarters on A-Level results day and happenin' meet-ups all year round.
If you fancy becoming part of the team, you can apply via our Support Team Application forum. (You know you want to!)
Do you volunteer? What's the best thing you ever got for free? Join in with the discussion by commenting on the thread below!
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