If you're aiming for a career in charity, education or social care then volunteering with children provides an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience while making a positive difference to children's lives
Volunteering with children is extremely rewarding and can be undertaken in a variety of settings. For example, you can volunteer in schools, youth clubs or summer camps or you could lead the scouts or guides, or volunteer as a sports coach.
However, if you're looking for more specific examples a number of children's charities rely on the help of volunteers. Here are ten opportunities to volunteer with children, both in the UK and abroad.
1. Help at a children's centre with Action for Children
In 2016 Action for Children helped 370,000 babies, children and families in the UK. The charity's aim is to give children and young people the practical and emotional support they need to help them succeed. They work with disabled children and their families, young carers, teenage mothers and those in the care system.
There are a number of ways that volunteers can get involved; one of the easiest ways is to assist staff at one of the charity's 200 children's centres across the UK. As a children's centre volunteer you could take part in stay-and-play sessions, assist with the child and family health services on offer, participate in programmes of speech and language support or help to maintain and develop the centre's social media presence.
2. Answer Childline phones with the NSPCC
For 30 years Childline has been helping children and young people, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but they currently only have the capacity to answer three out of every four calls from children in need. That's where volunteers can help.
Giving just four hours of your time per week could ensure that every child receives the listening ear they deserve. As a volunteer counsellor you'll be trained to offer comfort, support and practical advice to young callers. You can also help out as an email counsellor or switchboard volunteer.
3. Become a youth activities volunteer with Whizz Kidz
Whizz Kidz provides disabled children and young people with the mobility equipment they need and support them in learning essential life skills.
Youth activities volunteer positions are available across the UK and typically require you to give up one day each month. In this role you'll support young wheelchair users aged 8 to 25 in a range of activities, across a variety of services including wheelchair skills training, ambassador clubs and camp Whizz Kidz. You'll ensure all young people are engaged and safe and deliver fun and empowering activities. You'll need enthusiasm and confidence, as well as a flexible and creative approach to working with young people.
4. Befriend a child with Barnado's
As one of the UK's leading children's charities Barnado's helps to transform the lives of some of the country's most vulnerable children. Every year it helps more than 240,000 children, young people and their families, through 960 projects.
As a befriender you'll dedicate three to five hours on a weekly or fortnightly basis to act as a companion to a child or young person and provide a listening ear. You could ensure that your new friend enjoys some much needed leisure time by taking them to the park, cinema, bowling or a museum, or you could provide more practical support by helping with homework or transporting the young person to group activities. Befriending services usually take place on the evenings or at weekends.
5. Teach a child to read with Beanstalk
Providing one-on-one literacy support to children who struggle with their reading, Beanstalk has 3,100 volunteers across England and you could be one of them.
As a Beanstalk reading helper you'll work with children in a nursery or school setting, supporting those between 3 and 13 years of age. You will help to build a child's confidence and self-esteem through fun, literacy-based activities. You'll nurture their reading ability, practice reading skills and help children discover the magic of books and reading.
6. Teach music in Bolivia
If you would like to volunteer with children further afield and combine your passion for working with young people with your love of travelling there's an array of opportunities available.
Working in Bolivia with Projects Abroad you'll teach children from disadvantaged backgrounds the joys of music and help them to develop their musical ability.
You'll work in care centres and a school for the blind, delivering music workshops and helping to build children's confidence. You'll be encouraged to come up with new ideas to help the children learn and grow.
Based in the Bolivian town of Cochabamba you'll live with a host family for a minimum of two weeks.
7. Care for disadvantaged children in India
India struggles to care for the increasing number of children born into poverty; because of this the country is home to thousands of vulnerable young people. As a Kaya volunteer you'll work to develop the cognitive, academic, emotional and social skills of children by assisting local educators with their day-to-day activities.
Working in schools, day-care centres or schools for children with learning disabilities you'll teach basic English and maths skills, lead songs and rhymes, play games, undertake outdoor activities and monitor child development. You'll complete weekly progress reports for each child and attend volunteer meetings.
You have the option to volunteer in either Goa with its stunning beaches, Jaipur, known as the Pink City or the scenic mountain town of Himachal.
Learn more about working in India.
8. Coach sports in Ghana
In a rural village in Eastern Ghana Pod Volunteer gives you the opportunity to get stuck in to coaching sports.
You'll need a love of sport and a passion to keep fit to successfully deliver this project. As a volunteer you'll organise after-school sports clubs and lead coaching sessions to help improve fitness, concentration and increase the confidence of children. Popular sports include football and volleyball but you're welcome to introduce new activities and bring new ideas.
You'll usually work five days a week and coaching sessions typically run in the afternoons between 4pm to 6pm. In your spare time you can experience Ghanaian life and culture and visit local sights including waterfalls, national parks and vibrant markets.
9. Teach English in China
Teach English in China's Homestay programme offers volunteers the chance to gain a unique insight into Chinese culture by staying with a host family for a period of one, two or three months.
During your stay you'll spend 15 hours per week giving your host's child one-on-one English tuition in exchange for accommodation and food.
This immersive experience is available in a number of Chinese cities including Beijing, Chengdu, Shenzhen and Tianjin.
Gain an insight into working in China.
10. Provide after-school care in Italy
In disadvantaged areas of Naples children often spend their free time on the streets due to a lack of safe after school leisure activities. As an after school care volunteer for International Volunteer HQ you'll organise after-school workshops and educational activities, which incorporate art, cooking, games and music.
The project runs in the afternoons so the mornings are free to plan activities or to take advantage of the Italian languages lessons provided. Volunteers also enjoy weekends off duty so you'll have plenty of time to explore this culturally-rich country. You'll be free to visit historical sites, drink espresso and sample the world-famous cuisine. What's more, Rome, home to the Colosseum, Vatican and Sistine Chapel, is just an hour's train ride away.
Discover what it's like to work in Italy.