Listen to what our volunteers say about their experience at Vitalise
- General Questions
- Who can volunteer?
- Why volunteer?
- When can I volunteer?
- Can I still volunteer if I’m receiving benefits?
- Can I volunteer if I have a disability?
- Volunteering at a Vitalise Centre questions
- How long can I volunteer for?
- How do I book a volunteer place?
- Why do I need to have a background check?
- What does it cost?
- What is the volunteer accommodation like?
- Do I get pocket money?
- Who else will be there when I volunteer?
- I have no experience, does it matter?
- What is the work like?
- Overseas Volunteers questions
- Do you have extra information for overseas volunteers?
Who can volunteer?
Anyone and everyone can volunteer! There is no upper age limit; there are limited opportunities for people aged under 18 (please call us on 0303 303 0148 (UK) or 00 44 1539 814 682 from overseas for advice). There is no upper age limit. Vitalise actively welcomes people from all backgrounds and countries.
Vitalise runs one of the largest and most diverse volunteer programmes in the UK. Over 2,000 people volunteer their time with us every year.
Vitalise actively welcomes people from all backgrounds. Vitalise volunteers include students from all over the world, working people, retired people, teenagers and older persons. People who are unemployed or asylum seekers can volunteer without losing their benefits.
You don’t need to have previous experience. We will provide you with the appropriate induction, training and support to carry out your role whether you are volunteering in a Centre, an office or a shop, and whether you can give a few hours, a whole week, or longer.
Young people aged 16-18 are very welcome to volunteer with Vitalise, but spaces are limited so please contact us for advice before booking.
Important information for overseas volunteers
Vitalise regret we are unable to accept any individual bookings from people outside the EU (European Union). View more information for volunteers from outside the EU.
Groups and Team Volunteering
At Vitalise we welcome and encourage groups from schools, colleges and work places to spend some time volunteering in one of our Centres.
Volunteering is a great way to give something back to the community and build confidence, skills and team spirit. Our fully integrated environment allows disabled and able-bodied people to work together in a truly socially inclusive way. Volunteers quickly appreciate the value of diversity and the impact of disability upon day-to-day life.
Our weekly programmes demand a high degree of commitment and energy, and presents volunteers with an interesting variety of challenges.
Full public and employer’s liability insurance is provided in respect of all volunteers.
We offer fully structured weekly residential programmes. Most volunteers will be involved in the day-to-day physical and social support of disabled guests at our Centres, enabling independence, choice and contributing to the enjoyment of a great break.
Typical tasks may include:
- Helping with personal support and at mealtimes
- Helping on organised excursions away from the Centres
- Assisting with activities and entertainment within the Centres
- Supporting other volunteers as part of the team
For residential volunteers, all food and accommodation is provided. Vitalise can usually cover travel costs within the UK if necessary.
- Day opportunities and projects e.g. refurbishment, DIY and gardening
- Disability and diversity awareness and training
- Presentations arranged in your school, college or work place or at one of our Centres
- Full volunteer induction and training, plus on-going support from staff
- Opportunities for further development within the organisation
As an alternative to residential volunteering we encourage companies to take part in team projects lasting for one or two days.
If you are an employer or employee then take a look at our Corporate Volunteering and Team Building page for more information about our corporate volunteering programme and the benefits volunteering can bring to your organisation.
There are lots of reasons why people volunteer, but our experience suggests these are some of the prime reasons:
- To do something useful and rewarding with your spare time
- To put something back into the community
- To gain valuable life skills and experience
- To undertake student placement or work experience in the care sector
- To develop your personal skills and build your confidence
- To enhance your CV and job prospects
- To do something totally different and challenging!
Volunteering with Vitalise is about:
- Supporting people with disabilities
- Helping carers have a break
- Enabling independence, opportunity and choice
- Giving your time to help others
- Making a difference
- Having fun!
Vitalise offers you the opportunity to:
- Make a valuable contribution to the lives of others
- Gain a certificate of achievement (you may be able to get formal accreditation too)
- Achieve some of your goals and potential
- Make new friends and have great fun!
- We provide assessments for students and references on reques
When can I volunteer?
Our Vitalise shops and Vitalise offices need volunteers all year round.
The three Vitalise Centres also need volunteers all year but particularly in the spring and autumn. Please also check our Volunteer Alerts page. This page lists specific weeks for which we need more residential volunteers.
Can I still volunteer if I’m receiving benefits?
Yes, you can volunteer and still receive your benefits. Read the DWP guide to volunteering on benefits.
Can I volunteer if I have a disability?
We welcome everyone. If you have a disability or additional needs that you think may affect your volunteering then please contact us and we will be glad to advise you.
Volunteering at a Vitalise Centre questions
How long can I volunteer for?
Residential volunteers at a Vitalise Centre usually help for a week or two at a time. The weeks run from Saturday to Saturday.
Vitalise have opportunities for long term volunteers. Places are limited and some restrictions may apply, but we welcome enquiries from people looking for a 6 month or longer placement. Ideal for UK students looking for a (cheap!) GAP year experience. Some European and non EEA places may be available. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
How do I book a volunteer place?
Why do I need to have a background check?
Volunteers working in our Vitalise Centres need to undergo rigorous background checks including Enhanced Disclosures (police record check). For more information on what this involves read the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) information.
Vitalise Centres are regisered for care and nursing and it is a formal requirement for us to carry out such checks as it is our duty to protect our staff guests and volunteers.
What does it cost?
Nothing! As a residential volunteer, all your food and accommodation is provided along with insurance and help with travel costs (within mainland Britain) up to an annually agreed maximum. Of course, if you wish you can help raise funds by sponsorship and donations to help cover these costs. This can make a big difference in keeping our costs down. You may donate on our JustGiving page
What is the volunteer accommodation like?
Accommodation at the Vitalise Centre is usually shared. There are, however, some single rooms available. There are ample showers and other facilities (including internet access).
Do I get pocket money?
Sorry, no, unless you are a long term volunteer coming to us through a recognised agency.
Who else will be there when I volunteer?
Along with the guests (people with disabilities, and carers) for that week, there will be loads of other volunteers too, some short term, some long term, so you won't be on your own.
I have no experience, does it matter?
No. Most of our first time volunteers have no experience either. You'll be given training and support to carry out your role and there are plenty of staff around to ask if you need help or advice.
What is the work like?
What to expect
This information is for residential volunteers. If you are joining us on a daily basis then some of the information may still apply but you are more likely to be working on one-off projects.
Residential volunteering is great fun but do be prepared for hard work and pretty long hours.
Working routines are based on our guests needs and can vary from week to week. Youth weeks can be more demanding than other weeks for instance. Visit our Find a Break section if you want to choose to come on a particular Break and to see what's happening happening at a glance.
- Short-term residential volunteers (between one and four weeks) can expect to be on duty for around 14 hours a day, but don't worry, you will get some time off too!
- Longer-term volunteers (after an initial two week orientation period) will have two days off each week and will work reduced hours.
Vitalise provides essential short breaks for disabled people and carers and the whole ethos of our Vitalise Centres is to give our guests as much opportunity to have a good time as possible. We work hard to provide a holiday environment very different to traditional respite breaks.
You play a vital role providing support and independence to our guests. As a residential volunteer there will be plenty of socialising as you’ll be providing companionship and practical help on outings and activities. We hope the more relaxing social activities are enjoyable for our volunteers as well as our guests, but there’s still no getting away from the long hours!
You will help to provide some basic personal care and assistance to our guests on an individual basis. Unless you have previous experience and training in this area and are happy to help then you will not be expected to help with intimate personal care.
You won’t be asked to undertake any task you feel uncomfortable with.
Visit the Our Centres section to get a flavour of our Centres (each one is different!) and the different facilities available to both you and the guests. You will also see where they are located in the UK.
As a residential volunteer your accommodation is most likely to be in shared bunk rooms with between two and four volunteers per room.
There are very limited single rooms available. If you feel strongly that you need a single room then let us know at the time of registering and we will do our best to accommodate you but we can’t guarantee it. It’s not nearly as fun being on your own anyway!
Bed linen, washing facilities and showers are provided for all residential volunteers as well as all your meals.
Overseas Volunteers questions
Do you have extra information for overseas volunteers?
We welcome volunteers from outside the UK and appreciate the cultural richness and diversity this brings to our service.
Some of you will be coming a long distance to volunteer with Vitalise and it might be your first time away from home. So it is important that you understand what to expect at a Vitalise Centre.
To avoid any misunderstanding, please read this FAQ page and also read the following information carefully before making firm arrangements.
Important information for volunteers from outside the EEA (European Union.
Vitalise regrets that we are unable to accept any individual bookings from people outside the EEA.
We have arrangements with a small number of partner agencies and can only accept applications made through these agencies.
This position is under review and we will post any changes on our website.
Before you book a place at a Centre
- You MUST be aged 18 years or over
- You MUST have a good working knowledge of the English language. Many of our guests have specific communication needs and understanding their requirements is a very important aspect of the work
- We require a volunteer booking form (including checkable references) to be completed for each individual volunteer. Complete our online volunteer booking form
- In order for Vitalise to process your booking, in addition to the information requested on the volunteer booking from, you must also provide the following information: your country and place (town) of birth, your nationality, your passport number, tour passport date of issue and date of expiry, the place your passport was issued
- You MUST provide an official ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’ or ‘Criminal Record Certificate’ from the National Police agency of your home country, giving details of any previous criminal convictions, including those considered ‘spent’. This must be translated into English. If you do not provide this we cannot give you a volunteering place
- When you arrive at the Vitalise Centre, you will be asked to provide additional proof of identity and may be asked to complete an additional (English) Criminal Record Check. If you do not do so we reserve the right to cancel your place. Please check our proof of identity list (word document) and make sure you bring the appropriate document with you
- Long term volunteers are more likely to be involved in care tasks (after further training) and Vitalise therefore recommends volunteers seek advice on health protection against Hepatitis B before carrying out their work. Further information is available from NHS Direct or by contacting the medical teams at the Vitalise Centres.
- The usual residential period is for one or two weeks.
- As a general rule we can only work with overseas volunteers on a long term basis if you come to us through a recognised agency
- Your volunteering time can be broken up if you wish to take a break to travel etc. but this MUST be made clear to us at the time of booking
- We will endeavour to book you in at your chosen Centre and on your chosen dates but we reserve the right to change this if necessary. We will inform you of any changes
- We can help with travel costs in mainland UK only (we regret we cannot help with air fares)
- A Booking Confirmation letter will be provided but we ask that you make your own arrangements for your Visa if you require one
- If you have to cancel or change your booking for any reason please inform us as soon as possible so we can offer your place to another volunteer
After you have arrived
- We will provide all food and accommodation during your time at a Vitalise Centre
- Your accommodation is most likely to be shared in bunk rooms with between two and four volunteers sharing. There are very limited single rooms available. Bed linen, washing facilities and showers are provided
- The working routine for all Vitalise volunteers is very demanding. Short-term (between one and four weeks) volunteers can expect to be on duty for around 14 hours a day, although you will get some time off! Some duties involve more relaxing 'social' activities, which we hope are enjoyable for volunteers too, but you must be prepared to work long hours. Longer-term volunteers (after an initial two week orientation period) will be given two days off each week and will work reduced hours
- We regret that pocket money for subsistence can only be provided if you are volunteering through a recognised volunteer placement agency
- If you take travel breaks away from the Centres, you do so at your own expense
- Luggage can be left / stored at no cost at the discretion of the Centre Manager, and if there is space available