Blog 18 March 2022

Volunteering ideas for under 16s

The Volunteering section of a DofE programme is often the most rewarding, uplifting and memorable part of a young person’s DofE adventure. It can, however, sometimes be hard to find a suitable volunteering opportunity for those under the age of 16.

Remember, your DofE Leader needs to approve any activity before it is started. Here’s a collection of ideas and opportunities that participants might like to think about for their Volunteering section. For more ideas please visit the Opportunity Finder.


Barnardo’s transforms the lives of the most vulnerable children across the UK. They are committed to provide better outcomes for more children, and need volunteers to support in all areas of their work.

Shops: Roles include customer service, sorting donations and merchandising. 14+
Fundraising: Fundraise for the charity. 14+
Contact: 0208 498 7320 or [email protected]
Apply online or find out more here

Blue Cross

Blue Cross find happy homes for abandoned or unwanted pets and keep pets healthy by promoting welfare and providing treatment in their centres.

Retail volunteer: Help in a charity shop. (14+)
Pet care: Support the team with looking after pets in their care. 14+
Contact: 0300 777 1897
Find out more here

British Heart Foundation

British Heart Foundation has lots of flexible volunteering activities that can be carried out as part of your volunteering section and some of these can be carried out if you are under 16 (their shop roles are 16+)

Download the fundraising pack to help with planning.
There are lots of fun and unique ways to fundraise for the British Heart Foundation, this is a good place to start.
Look at their A-Z of fundraising ideas for inspiration.

A popular activity is a sponsored challenge. For example, a sponsored step / walking challenge for the 1 hour a week required for the volunteering section. Take a look at the DofE page to get some ideas.
Contact: [email protected]

British Red Cross

The British Red Cross aims to help people, whoever and wherever they are, in times of crisis.

Retail volunteer: Volunteers in one of their shops. (15+)
Contact: [email protected] or contact your local shop.
First Aid Champion: Be part of the new generation of lifesavers with the British Red Cross and train independently to be a First Aid Champion and volunteer in your school to teach the skills children and young people need to save a life. Learn more here.
Fundraiser: Fundraise for the charity. (15+)

Canal and River Trust

The Canal and River Trust is a charitable trust that was set up to look after the waterways of England and Wales.

Conservation Volunteer: There is a wide variety of conservation based opportunities around the canal and river network. (13+)
Contact: 0303 040 4040

Cats Protection

Cats Protection helps around 200,000 cats and kittens every year thanks in no small part to its network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and over 30 centres.

Retail roles: ‘Bookworm’ shop volunteer (14+), ‘Love to tidy’ shop volunteer (14+), ‘People person’ shop volunteer (14+)
Adoption centre only roles: Cat care volunteer (14+), Cat desensitisation volunteer (14+), Kitten socialisation volunteer (14+)
Fundraising roles: Fundraising events helper volunteer (16+), Fundraising volunteer (16+)
Contact[email protected]

Countryside Restoration Trust

The Countryside Restoration Trust is the UK’s leading charity promoting wildlife-friendly farming and campaigning for a living, working countryside.
Volunteer Support Groups: Support Group working parties help with tree and hedge planting, painting gates, clearing scrub, erecting nest boxes etc. (14+)
Contact: 01223 262999, [email protected]


By volunteering with GirlGuiding, you can help girls build their confidence, learn new skills and have loads of fun – all while benefiting from the adventure and opportunities guiding has to offer. Under 16? You can volunteer with them from age 13 upwards – join today as a young leader, for your DofE as a young external volunteer or a peer educator. All great ways to be a force for good! Become an inspiring role model for their members and help empower girls to be their best.

Unit Helper: for Rainbows, Brownies or Guides. (13+)
Peer Educator: talking about issues/deliver sessions in local units
Check out their Register Your Interest’ page for more information about how to get involved
Contact: [email protected]

Kissing it Better

Kissing it Better is a healthcare charity that offers supported volunteering opportunities, so you can use your talents to light up the day for older people in hospitals and care homes. Kissing it Better gives you the chance to use your creative skills to engage, entertain and delight older people in healthcare settings. You will work with groups of other students, and always be supported by a member of KiB. This is a fantastic opportunity if you’re keen on a career in healthcare, medicine, or working in the third sector.

Category: Helping others
Age: 14+
Where: West Midlands
When: Flexible, depending on projects
Contact: [email protected] / [email protected],

Leonard Cheshire Disability

Leonard Cheshire Disability supports individuals to live, learn and work as independently as they choose, whatever their ability. Led by people with experience of disability, they are at the heart of local life – opening doors to opportunity, choice and support in communities around the globe.

Social Action Volunteer: Lots of ideas for short and flexible volunteering for people who want to do a range of different volunteering. (13+)
Contact: Jocelyn Cole – 07793 801512 / [email protected]

National Energy Foundation

The National Energy Foundation (NEF) is an independent charity which aims to give people and organisations the knowledge, support and inspiration to improve the use of energy in buildings.

Energy Envoys: Set up an exciting project to help your community use energy more wisely, save money and help to save the planet. (14+)


Oxfam is a global movement of people who share the belief that, in a world rich in resources, poverty isn’t inevitable. It’s an injustice which can, and must, be overcome.

Charity shop volunteer: Many exciting opportunities, including selling music online, merchandising vintage clothes and researching books. (14+) Contact your local Oxfam shop.
Youth Ambassador: As a Youth Ambassador, Oxfam will help put ideas into action and make them a reality, whether that’s holding a school assembly or event, getting in the local paper, meeting a local MP or going to parliament. (14+) Contact: [email protected]

Riding for the Disabled Association

RDA’s horses and ponies provide therapy, achievement and enjoyment to people with disabilities all over the UK. Its network organises activities for up to 28,000 people each year.

RDA Volunteer: Support individuals with a disability to take part in riding, carriage driving or vaulting at your local RDA group. (12+)
Contact: [email protected]

Royal Voluntary Service

RVS is a national charity delivering practical support for older people through the power of volunteering, with 45,000 volunteers working throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

Community café volunteer: Make friends and gain experience in a catering environment while enriching the lives of older people. (14+)
Contact: 0845 608 0122
Community club volunteer: Help organise and lead activity sessions at local centres to offer older people the opportunity to meet others and enjoy regular social engagements. (14+)
Contact: 0845 608 0122


RESOLVEit’s voluntary community challenges help young people understand the importance of personal safety; the challenges they may meet on a personal level, in their local community and school and how to have a positive impact on others around them.
RESOLVEit has created a guided framework that will offer DofE participants the opportunity to educate their local community in matters of personal safety and self-defence whilst expanding their personal skill set. Volunteering with them involves creating a personal safety event and a social media campaign! They believe everyone has the right to feel safe.

Contact: [email protected]

Sanctuary Care Ltd

Sanctuary Care is all about making sure our residents have the best time ever, filled with awesome moments and amazing memories. We believe that everyone deserves to live a joyful and fulfilled life, and that’s exactly what we strive for. As a Volunteer Befriender, you won’t be responsible for direct resident care, but you’ll be there to offer some extra support.
You can make their home even cosier by simply chatting, listening, or reading together. You can also run errands or go on quick walks together, and of course, join in on the fun activities like games and singing. It’s a fantastic opportunity for those aged 13 and above to make a meaningful difference and create wonderful connections (13+).

Contact: [email protected] / 07484 547035

St John Ambulance

St John Ambulance are the charity that steps forward in the moments that matter, to save lives and keep communities safe. We put young people at the heart of communities and as we celebrate the centenary of our Cadet programme, more young people than ever will be qualified and ready to be active health citizens, role models and next generation health professionals.

Community Advocate: As a St John Ambulance Community Advocate you will help to raise the profile of first aid within your local community by helping us spread awareness of the first aid message, through the delivery of a 1-hour lifesaving skills workshop. (14+)
Virtual Fundraising: Raise money and help save lives from the comfort of your own home. St John Ambulance is a charity so we rely on your donations to engage more young people in first aid, train and equip our volunteers, run our ambulances and, ultimately, keep your communities safe.
Contact: [email protected]

St Barnabas Hospice, Lincolnshire

St Barnabas Hospice is a local independent charity and every year they support more than 9,000 people across Lincolnshire. They deliver free, high-quality, compassionate end-of-life care and support to adults living with a life-limiting or terminal illness, their family and carers. They offer the patient and their family hospice care and support via: specialist in-patient care, community ‘hospice at home’ service, day therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy & complementary therapy, welfare advice & support and bereavement support. All the services are free.

Retail Volunteer: You will provide excellent service to customers who purchase from and donate to our shops.
You will receive and process donated goods, steam and prepare clothes for sale and encourage Gift Aid.
Rotation and restocking of items for sale as well as pricing following guidelines.
You will represent and pass on information about hospice services and help the Retail Department support the work of the Hospice.
You will be able to merchandise attractive displays, sort donations, use the till and work as part of a committed team of volunteers helping to raise the funds that allow us to offer the excellent specialist palliative and end of life care that we are known and celebrated for.
Contact: [email protected] / 01522 518221

The Organic Cookery School

The Organic Cookery School is a not for profit community cookery school which offers DofE approved volunteering and skills activities to young people across the UK. Their ‘Community Chef Award’ offers Bronze, Silver and Gold participants the chance to use their cooking skills and enthusiasm to benefit their local community over 3, 6, 12 or 18 months, as well as gaining a level 2 food safety and hygiene qualification. Recent participants have volunteered in local food banks, cooked for homeless shelters, organized bake sales for their preferred charities, cooked for elderly or vulnerable neighbours, or provided healthy packed lunches in school holidays to local children who would normally receive free school lunches. Suitable for young people aged 13 years +

Contact: [email protected]

Superbloom volunteering at the Tower of London

Celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at the Tower of London, where a spectacular, colourful, vibrant field of flowers will fill and transform the Tower’s moat. Designed to attract pollinators, ‘Superbloom’ will bring a spectacular natural beauty to the urban space and introduce a new biodiverse habitat for wildlife. It will celebrate the value of nature for our wellbeing.

The Roles:
There are 2 roles being developed currently, both have a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities.
• The Welcome Team will be the main support for visitors arriving, checking tickets and entering the moat (via the slide!) This role will be our entry level role and all volunteers will receive training to work in this team.
• The Moat Interpretation Team will be the volunteers based in and around the blooms helping with engagement, display maintenance and visitor supervision. This role is more advanced and aimed at volunteers that are self-led and looking for a wider experience.

No previous experience is required and all training will be provided, both roles have been designed to be accessible and engaging for first timers and veteran volunteers alike. Shifts will be 5 hours long and under 16+ will need to be accompanied by an adult and we recommend that volunteers attend as part of a group.

Key dates:
These dates are very dependent on the build progress of the project and the British weather conditions, running a 16 week outdoor event over summer in the UK means we are very much at the mercy of the elements!
• The event will be open to the public from the beginning of June through to mid- September, depending on how the blooms are still looking at the end of summer. We will also be running some dress rehearsals and press days in late May that we will need help with as well.
• Superbloom will be open to the public 7 days a week 9am till 6pm and we will be running lates on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays where we will be open till 10pm.
• Training will run regularly throughout April and May and then weekly during the rest of the event.
• Volunteers will be able to sign up to training sessions from mid-March and they will take roughly 3 to 4 hours to complete (either a morning or an afternoon)
Contact: [email protected]


YHA provides budget accommodation for individuals, families and groups. They aim to inspire all, especially young people, to broaden their horizons, gain knowledge and independence.

YHA volunteer: Roles at your local hostel include café work, reception, gardening and housekeeping. Roles at National Office include administration work and fundraising. (14+)
Virtual Volunteering: Find your perfect mix of volunteering outside and at home with online Virtual Volunteering. These self-led roles allow you to choose when, where and how you volunteer. They are supported with downloadable 12-week schedules that you can use to help plan your volunteering activity.
Contact: 01629 592 562, [email protected], or speak to your local hostel.

Opportunity Finder

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