Urban Volunteering:  London

London Activism
by Ruth Stokes Dec 28, 2009
London Wildlife Trust

Dedicated to protecting London’s wild spaces and engaging diverse communities through campaigning, education, and volunteer programs, the London Wildlife Trust gives you an opportunity to get into nature and out of the urban rush.

The work of the organization reaches far beyond simple conservation, helping adults with mental health problems, running education sessions for primary school children and offering guided tours.

Required commitment time varies depending on which project you choose and in most cases no experience is needed to volunteer. To find out more and to apply visit London Wildlife Trust or email volunteering@wildlondon.org.uk.

Toynbee Hall

Based in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in the country, Toynbee Hall provides practical, innovative programs to meet the needs of the community.

One of the volunteer programs is their annual residential volunteer program, offering 15 volunteers accommodation and expenses in return for 20-30 hours of work per week. This year, there is also a “subsidized” volunteer option where 11 candidates will be asked to commit six to 12 hours per week and contribute £200 per month towards accommodation and bills.

Residential volunteers are given training and support from Toynbee Hall to enable the volunteer to work in one of many different programs. There are also “specialist” volunteer positions available in the areas of finance, migrations, English as a foreign language, and volunteer management.

The program starts every September and runs for 12 months. The charity will be recruiting for its next intake in May 2010. Volunteers must be fluent in English, although anyone who also speaks Bengali, Urdu or Somali will have an advantage.

For further information on roles and to apply visit Toynbee Hall.


This charity takes food discarded by supermarkets and redistributes it to homeless shelters, day centers, breakfast clubs and women’s centers. The food they receive is perfectly edible, but was rejected by retailers for reasons such as faulty packaging, mislabelling and display dates.

Volunteer positions include food sorters, drivers, navigators and office workers. No experience is required as volunteers are given full training in food hygiene, although drivers will need a clean driving record and will need to take a Mini Bus Drivers Awareness Scheme Assessment.

The commitment requires at least one shift every two weeks. There are also opportunities available in the areas of marketing and fundraising. Visit FareShare or email enquiries@fareshare.org.uk for more information.


Sense is the UK’s leading national charity supporting and campaigning for adults and children who are deafblind, offering advice and practical help. The charity has a number of volunteering opportunities in and around the London area.

In 2010, the organization needs volunteers for three week-long “holiday” placements, which involves assisting people with deafblindness on a leisure trip in return for accommodation and food. There are also occasional weekend events in need of volunteers.

For anyone wanted to volunteer with Sense, planning ahead is essential as all volunteers must pass a Criminal Records Bureau Check which can take between four to six weeks for UK citizens – or up to three months for volunteers from other countries. The charity starts to offer placements towards the end of March.

To request an application form visit Sense.

The Simon Community

This charity provides help and support to the homeless in London by providing shelters where homeless people and volunteers live and work together.

The Community offers both full time and part time volunteering opportunities. Full-time volunteers, who must be 19 years or older and receive accommodations, food and £38 a week for expenses, are expected to stay for a minimum of six months. They will live and work alongside the homeless, helping to “break down the barrier between the helpers and the helped”.

Part-time volunteers don’t live at the house, but help out with a variety of tasks including tea-runs, driving, campaigning, office work and helping out at houses – travel expenses are paid and there is no minimum commitment.

For more information and contact details visit The Simon Community or email info@simoncommunity.org.uk.

National Trust

The National Trust owns and cares for numerous heritage sites in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, focusing on environmental conservation.

Volunteer opportunities involve practical work on these properties in and around the London area for days, weekends or week-long projects. Weekends are the most regular and easily available option, costing £8. Work could involve fencing, building stone walls, tree planting, clearing vegetation and cutting steps into hillsides. Occasionally, it will also involve helping out at events.

For detailed information on opportunities available for 2010 and booking information visit The National Trust.

Community Connection:

Need help choosing a volunteer project? Check out The Complete Guide to Volunteer Tourism!

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