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Everything You Need to Know About Being a Volunteer in Glasgow

Everything You Need to Know About Being a Volunteer in Glasgow 

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest and most populous city, and it has over 500,000 inhabitants. It’s a thriving community and an equally stimulating city as Edinburgh, but it has also seen its fair share of disasters and social disparities. 

The consequences of the pandemic alone have led to negative impacts on the city’s healthcare system, finances, and international profile and outlook, with it being the country’s sporting capital.

But there is a silver lining: volunteering numbers hit a record high when nearly three million people stepped up during the pandemic to give aid to communities. 

This has even led to the creation of Scotland’s Volunteering Action Plan, launched last June 15 in Glasgow.

If you’re an individual or a group looking for an in-depth guide to volunteering in Glasgow, we’ve got you covered.

Where to volunteer in Glasgow

The most common volunteer opportunities in Glasgow involve mentoring, charity shops, community development, driving, and youth work. Here are our top 10 places to volunteer in Glasgow.

Name of OrganisationFocus/Area
Glasgow’s Golden GenerationBefriending Service
King’s Park GlasgowEnvironment
The Parent Community Sports TrustMusic and Arts
Crookston Community GroupCommunity/Economic Development
Glasgow Children’s Hospital CharityYouth Work/Fundraising
Guide Dogs ScotlandCare/Support Worker
Glasgow Association for Mental HealthCare/Support Worker
Community Transport GlasgowTransportation
Glasgow Libraries Home Library ServiceCommunity/Befriending Service

Keep reading to find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about volunteering in Glasgow and to learn more about these volunteer opportunities.

What are the benefits of volunteering?

What are the benefits of volunteering

Image: Cristi Tohatan via Unsplash

Volunteering is a great way to keep busy, contribute to the community, and feel fulfilment. There is no shortage of causes to support in Glasgow, and there is no such thing as too many volunteers.

A recent article from The Guardian reports that the cost of living crisis could force churches and other vital community hubs in the area to shut down due to rising bills and shrinking donations.

Volunteering can help you make a difference in your own way, using the skills and assets that are available to you. It’s also a great way to socialise with people who care about the same causes as you.

Likewise, having your volunteer experience listed on your professional resume can also be beneficial when applying for jobs, more so if it’s relevant to the position you want.

What rights do volunteers have in the UK?

Whether it’s helping a charity for a public or private sector, volunteers do so without any financial reward. Although formal volunteering roles like trustees might have some legal obligations, volunteers do not have the same legal protection as regular employees.

Relevant legislation such as the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Equality Act 2010 does not include volunteers. For emotionally harmful or threatening experiences, however, volunteers can be entitled to legal protection.

Some examples of these instances include threats to health and safety (Health and Safety at Work Act 1974) and harassment (Protection from Harassment Act 1997). Therefore, all organisations are tasked to keep their volunteers safe.

Do volunteers still have a duty of care?

As previously mentioned, organisations have a responsibility to manage individual volunteers and communities affected. At the same time, volunteers have a duty of care towards people they work with and around while volunteering.

PLEA emphasises that if a volunteer negligently harms someone while doing their duties, the organisation can also be held liable for acting within their scope of authority. This is why agreements between all parties involved during volunteering is crucial.

Who is responsible for volunteers?

Who is responsible for volunteers

Image: Natasha Hall via Unsplash

Most volunteers are not responsible for the cost of their volunteer work. But some organisations, especially charities, do rely on volunteers to provide some materials and goods necessary for their work.

In terms of skills, reputable organisations will likely have well-designed volunteer training programmes. This is essential to help you make the most of volunteers and create a sustainable volunteer management system.

Much like working for a paid position, you might be introduced to a mentor or a guide that will show you the ropes. If you’re considering a volunteer position, make sure to ask what your contribution will be, and what skills you need to develop.

Do volunteers need a contract?

The answer to this depends on whether you’re signing up to become a volunteer or a voluntary worker. We elaborate on the differences between the two in the table below:

VolunteerVoluntary Worker
No contractWith an obligation to accomplish work, sometimes an unwritten contract
Must not be a substitute for an actual employeeMight have to do their role at a set schedule
Must not get paid except for reimbursementsSometimes paid in kind, products, services, or through free training
Low commitment High commitment

If you’re looking to become a voluntary worker, it might be best to have a contract that spells out the responsibilities of both parties. This document can help protect volunteers by ensuring their safety as well as their legal rights.

Can volunteers be paid?

For the most part, volunteers are unpaid. Sometimes, organisations and charities might give out reimbursements, products, services, or free training – of course, you would also be able to gain unique experiences through volunteering.

Do you pay tax on voluntary work?

Do you pay tax on voluntary work

Image: Ismael Paramo

According to the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, volunteers may be reimbursed tax-free for out-of-pocket expenses that needed to be made to help them perform their role.

These include, but are not limited to: meals, travel expenses, postage and telephone, and protective clothing. If you’re planning to use your own car, there are agreed mileage rates that can be paid without any tax liability as well.

Do I need a national insurance number to volunteer?

Because volunteers receive no pay and aren’t working under the same legal protections as regular employees, you do not need a national insurance number. This means people under the age of 18 can volunteer as well.

Can I volunteer if I’m visiting Glasgow?

If you’re visiting from Edinburgh, Newcastle, or other cities surrounding Glasgow, this is an easy enough feat. 

If you’re coming from anywhere else in the UK for a business trip or a special event, it’s possible, provided you have extra time and apply for volunteering in advance.

Although the UK is no longer a member of the UE, UE nationals can still volunteer in Glasgow if they fulfill the following requirements:

  1. They have settled or pre-settled status.
  2. They have a visa that allows for volunteering.
  3. They are attending with an EU-funded programme such as Erasmus + or the European Solidarity Corps.

Some charities also open up their volunteering opportunities to non-UK individuals. This can include visitors, overseas students, and migrants.

Any individual with a tourist or a student visa may undertake incidental volunteering (i.e. the main purpose of the visit is not to volunteer), provided that it lasts under 30 days in total.

It must also be for a Glasgow organisation or charity that is registered with either the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, or the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

Here is an online tool to check if you need a visa and if your visa will allow for volunteering.

Going by these definitions, people overseas can often volunteer, but can’t do voluntary work. 

If a person is simply a volunteer, then they don’t have to have the right to work in the UK. And if the work required has a high level of commitment, then organisations and charities might have to check if you have the right to work in the UK.

How do I find out about volunteering opportunities?

How do I find out about volunteering opportunities

Image: Ismael Paramo via Unsplash

The internet is your best friend when it comes to looking for volunteer opportunities. Websites such as Volunteer Glasgow has a goldmine of choices that are frequently updated. 

You can also filter opportunities according to categories such as admin/office work, counselling, volunteer guide, and even sports/fitness. This makes it easier for you to find something that piques your interests.

We also recommend looking at your local community and asking schools, medical centers, community kitchens, and churches around your neighbourhood. It’s a fantastic way to get started volunteering, at the same time giving back to the people around you.

Other reputable opportunity sources include Volunteer Scotland, GlasgowLife, and GoAbroad. In the next section, we’ve selected some of the best places to volunteer in Glasgow to help you get started with your search.

Top 10 Places to Volunteer in Glasgow

1. Glasgow’s Golden Generation


Location: See website

Contact Information: 0141 221 9924

Commitment: 1-2 hours weekly for 6 months/9 months

Glasgow’s Golden Generation is a charity that helps and supports older adults in Glasgow. Some of the services they provide are day centres, weekly clubs, and befriending services.

The role of a volunteer befriender will require no prior experience, as long as you are a patient and friendly individual with a good listening ear. You will make visits or contact a person with whom you have been matched regularly.

This experience helps provide self-confidence, friendship, and emotional support, and increases the quality of life of someone who might be feeling lonely and isolated during their golden years.

2. Litter Picking in King’s Park, Glasgow

Website: [email protected] 

Location: King’s Park Walled Garden

Commitment: 10:30 AM–12 PM, Saturdays

This is a great choice for beginner volunteers, or for those who live around the area. The opportunity involves taking a social stroll through King’s Park while picking litter, and no prior experience is necessary.

It’s also a great way to meet new people, get some fresh air, exercise, and make a difference in your local community. Visitors will also be able to enjoy the sights of nature in Glasgow.

3. The Parent Community Sports Trust: Drama & Music Teachers

Website:, [email protected] 

Location: Peterson Park Hall in Knightswood

Commitment: Contact organisation for more details

The Parent Community Sports Trust is a charity that strengthens communities mostly through sports initiatives and other enriching endeavours. The organisation seeks to start a music and drama club and run a community hall.

The role is highly flexible and based on volunteers’ skill set, as long as they hold an interest or talent in music or drama. It’s a great opportunity for those who want to engage with local children and young artistic people.

4. Crookston Community Group


Location: Peterson Park Hall in Knightswood

Commitment: Once a week or more

The Crookston Community Group collects excess food and prevents food wastage with the goal of improving the living conditions for others. If these causes sound important to you, then you might want to consider this low-commitment opportunity.

The Crookston Community Group is looking for a Cook/Catering Assistant for their new community cafe called “TIFFIN” in Bellahouston. The role involves basic food preparation and management tasks and assistance in keeping track of supplies.

This role will grant you experience working in a fast-paced environment, teamwork & communication skills, as well as valuable experience for your CV.

5. Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity


Location: Merrylee House 8 Marchfield Drive Paisley PA3 2RB

Commitment: Various levels depending on tasks

The Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity mainly fundraises to ensure that babies, children, and teens that are treated at their hospital are treated with sufficient care. 

They almost always accept volunteers for stock management, retail, and activities, especially since they are always opening up new charity shops and pop-ups.

If you have a passion for helping children or are experienced in tasks involving stock and retail management, then this might be the opportunity for you.

6. Guide Dogs Scotland


Location: Axis House, 12 Auchingramont Rd, Hamilton ML3 6JT, United Kingdom

Contact Information: 345 143 0206

Commitment: Flexible

Guide Dogs is an organisation that holds fundraising events to help blind people and support guide dogs throughout its life through different activities. These range from fundraising events, safeguarding training, and collection box coordinator, among others.

Individuals in Glasgow are invited to join their team for fundraising activities, and it’s a commitment with a flexible schedule. The role also requires travel around the local area to events and group meetings.

This gives you a chance to help out in stalls for events, initial training & introduction to Guide Dogs, and a chance to meet the members of the community.

7. Refuweegee


Location: 5th Floor, 249 W George St, Glasgow G2 4QE, United Kingdom

Contact Information: 141 401 0756

Commitment: Various levels depending on tasks

Refuweegee was established in 2015, and has since provided a welcome to displaced people in Glasgow. They mainly provide personal welcome packs & emergency support packs, events, and volunteer opportunities.

You can begin volunteering for simple tasks like writing notes and letters to go inside these packs, or shopping for essentials needed. They also hold regular book club events which refugees and volunteers can attend and use to socialise.

8. Glasgow Association for Mental Health


Location: 33 Turnbull St, Glasgow G1 5PR, United Kingdom

Contact Information: 141 552 5592

Commitment: Contact organisation for more details

Glasgow Association for Mental Health (GAMH) is an independent charity that promotes the mental health and well-being of people and communities. They are able to provide more than 2000 hours of community-based support every week.

In partnership with the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), they have launched a volunteering programme in 2021 to offer resources and training courses to those who want to make a difference.

The organisation just held a successful volunteer recruitment drive and are reopening again in the new year, so be sure to keep them on your radar.

9. Community Transport Glasgow


Location: 43 Sandilands Street Annick Industrial Estate Block 1, Unit 5, Glasgow G32 0HT, United Kingdom

Contact Information: 141 778 2042

Commitment: Flexible

Community Transport Glasgow was formed to deliver high quality, reliable, and accessible transport to the communities in Glasgow. They also work to develop a funding and income strategy to sustain community transport in the city.

You can volunteer as a driver or passenger assistant for their minibus service if you have a ‘D1’ classified driving licence, or you can go as a car driver to help transport elderly people, individuals with mobility issues, and patients.

This opportunity also counts as work experience, but you’ll need to submit a handful of requirements and undergo training.

10. Glasgow Libraries Home Library Service


Location: Bridegton Library, Castlemilk Library, Couper Library, Pollok Library

Contact Information: 0141 287 2885

Commitment: Flexible

Glasgow Libraries offers a free home library service targeted towards those who can no longer visit the library in person. They are currently recruiting for Bridegton Library, Castlemilk Library, Couper Library, and Pollok Library.

Volunteers will visit the library to collect materials, travel in pairs to clients’ homes, and socialise with them. They are also tasked to bring back books on loan and not feedback on their respective profile sheets.

A PVG membership will be required for this, and it will be paid for by Glasgow Life. If you happen to be a bookworm, then this is a wonderful opportunity to share the love of reading to others.

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