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Frequently asked questions on volunteering

A volunteer talking to a visitor at Wightwick Manor and Gardens, West Midlands
A volunteer talking to a visitor at Wightwick Manor and Gardens, West Midlands | © National Trust Images/John Millar

One way to support the National Trust, while also spending time in amazing places and making new friends, is to volunteer. Volunteering is a rewarding experience, but understandably you may have many questions on how you can get involved, what volunteering entails, whether training is included or if you’re qualified enough. The frequently asked questions below will help answer many of these queries.

Who can volunteer?

Do I have to be a member of the National Trust?

No, many of our volunteers aren’t members of the Trust.

How old should I be?

In general, there’s no age limit. As long as you can make a useful and safe contribution, the activity is suitable for your age, it won’t harm you and there’s no legal age requirement - driving, for example - then you’re welcome to volunteer.

However, there are some exceptions. Anyone under 18 must have permission to volunteer from a parent or guardian and must be supervised by an adult. We cannot always provide supervision so this may restrict younger people to volunteering with their parent or guardian.

Plus, overseas volunteers must be 18 or over with a good command of spoken English. Full-time volunteers should also be 18 or over, although some places may be prepared to accept 17-year-olds.

I’m receiving benefits, am I allowed to volunteer?

Yes, but we suggest telling your Job Centre about the volunteering. For full details see the Directgov website

I live outside the UK, can I volunteer?

It’s your responsibility to make sure you can volunteer while in the UK. In general, if you’re from the European Union or European Economic Area you’re able to volunteer. However, you should always check the conditions of your visa. If you have any doubts or questions contact UK Visas and Immigration

I’m a refugee or asylum seeker, can I volunteer?

If you have refugee status or have exceptional leave to remain in the UK then you’re welcome to volunteer for the Trust. Likewise, if you’re an asylum seeker then you can also volunteer. If your final appeal is refused and you’re denied leave to remain then you have to stop volunteering.

Visitors on a garden tour in Autumn at Ightham Mote, Kent
Visitors on a garden tour at Ightham Mote, Kent | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

How does volunteering work?

How much time should I give?

In general, there’s no minimum time volunteers must give but some roles, such as room guide, benefit from regular involvements – for example, one shift a week. You can decide with the manager the arrangements that work for you while also meeting the property’s needs.

Many properties and sites also offer one-off volunteering opportunities especially for groups, whether that’s with your family or a group of work colleagues.

Will I be paid?

No, as a volunteer there’s no pay. We will ensure you don’t lose out financially by covering your agreed out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel between your home and where you volunteer.

Is there training?

Yes, but the training depends on the role. For example, a volunteer countryside ranger might receive formal chain saw training while a room guide will probably learn most by talking to other experienced volunteers.

However, every volunteer receives a thorough induction to their role, so that they feel confident in what they’re being asked to do.

How will I be kept up to date on what’s going on?

Most properties use word of mouth. Face-to-face briefings or one-to-one chats, for example, keep volunteers informed of what’s happening on site. Many places also produce printed or digital newsletters or post important messages on notice boards. These both keep volunteers informed and ask for volunteers’ input on decisions.

There’s also a dedicated website where volunteers can claim expenses, record hours and update their rotas. Called 'myvolunteering', it also showcases correspondent and volunteer stories, contains document resources and provides up-to-date Trust news.

A monthly ‘myvolunteering’ newsletter is produced and there’s a national Facebook group to help volunteers keep in touch and share their experiences and ideas.

Are volunteers rewarded and recognised?

Yes. Many of the places run social events to say ‘thank you’ to volunteers, such as Christmas dinners or summer barbecues. Sites also promote the work of their volunteer teams in the local press and internal publications, and we have a long service awards scheme.

Is accommodation provided?

In general, people volunteer at sites close to their homes, so we don’t provide accommodation. However, certain places can offer accommodation for full-time volunteers and interns.

Will I be insured?

The Trust has insurance cover for legal liability claims, either by or against volunteers working for the Trust, resulting from damage to property or personal injury.

Do you have a Volunteering Charter?

Yes, our Volunteering Charter has been created for, and by, volunteers and staff. We want everyone to have a good experience when volunteering with us and our Charter sets out what this should look like.

It includes a practical guide for volunteers and volunteer managers, along with information on our commitment to volunteering, what volunteers can expect from us and what we ask of our volunteers.

Volunteer helping to clear away tree cuttings at Wentworth Castle, South Yorkshire
Volunteer helping to clear away tree cuttings at Wentworth Castle, South Yorkshire | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

What happens next?

I want to volunteer, what do I do now?

Search for opportunities close to you on the website and once you’ve found the role/s you’re interested in, fill in the relevant application form/s. Someone from the local team will then be in touch to discuss what happens next. This is usually a visit and a chat, but could also be an open day or a more formal recruitment process, such as an interview.

Can groups get involved?

Can school groups volunteer?

We are always pleased to assist schools that are organising Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programmes and can suggest opportunities for residential and non-residential community service at bronze, silver and gold award levels.

Can I bring my local youth or community group?

Yes, many different groups volunteer for the Trust, from youth groups to corporate groups. Contact your local site to find out how your group can get involved.

A group of people listening to a volunteer as they lead a guided tour around the house of Mompesson House, Salisbury, Wiltshire

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