Answers to the most common volunteering questions

Thank you for your interest in volunteering. Hopefully, we answer any questions you have in the information below. If not, please contact us.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to be an RSPB member to volunteer? chevron-down

You do not have to be an RSPB member to volunteer with us.

I don't know anything about birds, can I still volunteer? chevron-down

You don’t have to be a bird or wildlife expert to volunteer with us. There are many ways you can get involved with our work. If you don't know a robin from a redwing, it really doesn't matter.

Where can I volunteer? chevron-down

Wherever suits you! Choose from:

  • Your home
  • Your local community
  • Outdoors or indoors on our nature reserves
  • Your nearest RSPB office
  • Abroad
Is there an upper or lower age limit? chevron-down

No, there is no age limit. The youngest volunteer with the RSPB is eight years old and the oldest is more than 100 years old. No matter what your age there will be a volunteering opportunity for you. However, if you would like to be a residential volunteer, you need to be at least 16 years old (18 on some sites).

If you are younger than 18, we do ask that your parent or guardian gives permission for you to become a volunteer.

If you are from overseas, to be a residential volunteer you need to be aged 18 or older and be a citizen of the EU or EEA (see more information below).

What support will I receive? chevron-down

Support for volunteers is something we take very seriously. Whatever roles you do with us, we will ensure you have what you need to do them successfully.

As a volunteer, you will have a dedicated person to help and support you in your role. We pride ourselves on making volunteers part of our team.

Ninety percent of our volunteers would recommend volunteering with us to a friend or family member, so we must be doing something right!

Will it cost me anything to become a volunteer? chevron-down

No. Because you'll be giving up your time, it's only fair that we offer to reimburse your travel expenses and any other expenses agreed with your manager.

Please note that you cannot claim travel expenses for residential volunteering – we provide accommodation instead.

How long will I have to commit for? chevron-down

As a volunteer, you are free to leave whenever you like. If other people depend on you, we will ask you to give your RSPB contact reasonable warning if you cannot come in.

What training will I get? chevron-down

That depends on what you do with us. We will train you to ensure you are able to carry out your volunteering role.

Some roles, such as our membership recruiters, require specific training. Others may require little formal training. The contact for each volunteer opportunity will be able to give you more details.

How do I get a career in conservation? chevron-down

If you're considering a career in conservation, please visit our Getting your dream job page. This section is written for teenagers but it offers some useful information for all job seekers, no matter what your age.

Will I/my group be insured? chevron-down

Yes. Just like our staff, you will be covered by our insurance policies for any activities you undertake on our behalf.

I am receiving Welfare Benefits - am I allowed to volunteer? chevron-down

Yes. The benefits regulations are very clear that you can volunteer.

The latest information on volunteering while receiving benefits can be found on the government's website.

I have a criminal record - does this mean that I can't do voluntary work? chevron-down

No, a criminal record should not bar you from volunteering with us, although it may limit the things you are able to do.

If you wish to make a confidential enquiry, please give the Volunteering Development Department a call on 01767 680551.

Can I volunteer if I have a disability? chevron-down

Yes, we will always try to do all we can to accommodate your needs so you can volunteer with us. Many people with a disability already do.

Do you accept volunteers from outside of the UK? chevron-down

Absolutely! At the RSPB, we are committed to equality and diversity, and believe that diverse people bring fresh ideas and experiences to our organisation. Volunteering with the RSPB is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience, meet new people and develop your skills. If you are a citizen of a European Union or EEA member state, you can volunteer with us without restriction.

If you are a citizen of any other country, and hold a valid visa, you are welcome to volunteer with us. We may need to verify your visa entitlement at the time of your application.

We cannot advise you directly on whether your visa allows you to volunteer in the UK. We suggest you speak to your consulate, embassy or UK Visas and Immigration for this advice.

The rules about people from overseas volunteering are complex. The NCVO Website explains who from overseas can and cannot volunteer and what restrictions are in place. If you are interested in volunteering with us please check if you can do so and what Visa you might require via the UK Government's website here. The RSPB does not act as a Sponsoring Organisation for Visa applications.

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