Residential Volunteer - Rathlin Island

Monday 11 November 2019
Vacancy type:
Residential volunteering, Showing people wildlife
Rathlin Island

What we're looking for

This is a truly unique volunteering experience. Rathlin Island has the largest seabird breeding colony in Northern Ireland. The Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre welcomes in excess of 15,000 visitors during the season, all eager to see the puffins and other seabirds at this internationally important seabird colony The Seabird Centre includes a visitor centre and access to the lighthouse itself, which is now presented as one of the thirteen 'Great Lighthouses of Ireland'. This has significantly enhanced the visitor experience, while the seabird spectacle and breathtaking scenery remain as incredible as they always have been. We want you to be the welcoming and knowledgeable face of the RSPB to engage, inspire and motivate our visitors. By delivering an exceptional visitor experience, we aim to convert visits into support for the work of the RSPB through donations and membership. You will join our friendly team of full-time seasonal staff and up to eight residential volunteers per week. Most of your time will be spent interacting with visitors, but you'll also be involved in daily tasks maintaining the visitor facilities, including housekeeping and restocking refreshments. In addition to the main daily role, our residential volunteers contribute in so many other ways – if you have practical skills, creative flair, foreign languages or any other talents to offer the Seabird Centre, we will be delighted to hear about it!

The skills you need

Minimum age 18. Enthusiasm, ability to work both on your own initiative and as part of a team, interested in conservation and wildlife but, above all, good with people and quick to learn. Due to the nature of the site, this role requires a lot of walking and negotiating the 120+ steep steps to the viewing platform. You need to be friendly, approachable and able to engage with visitors from all over the world. Overseas volunteers should have a good level of spoken English. Please note, specialist bird knowledge, whilst helpful, is not essential.

Your time

2 weeks Monday to Monday or longer
April to mid September 2020
April to mid September 2020



Application form (PDF)
To be completed and returned to us before a booking can be made

Brochure about residential volunteering (PDF)
Find out more about residential volunteering on this, and our other reserves within this scheme. Also included are answers to the most frequently asked questions

What's in it for you?

As an RSPB volunteer you'll be part of something big – a team of amazing people who donate their time, energy and talents to help the RSPB give nature a home. You'll play a vital role in delivering a first-class experience to our visitors – we simply couldn't do it without you! Each day, you'll be meeting a wide variety of people and providing them with that memorable 'wow' moment. From the viewing platform, you'll have grandstand views of the seabird colony, with sensational wildlife-watching opportunities throughout the breeding season. You'll look out from the cliffs across the wild Atlantic, with vistas of the Causeway Coast, Donegal and Islay on the horizon, and maybe spot seals, cetaceans or other marine wildlife. You'll gain insight into the workings of Europe's largest conservation charity, and in particular learn about the RSPB's conservation work on Rathlin, where our reserves are managed to support the return of choughs and corncrakes to the island. In your free time, you'll be able to explore Rathlin and experience island life. Get out on the walking trails, enjoy the wild landscape of this beautiful island, and look out for Rathlin's remarkable wildlife. Call in to the Boathouse museum, visit some of the landmarks and soak up the island's history stretching from neolithic times to the modern era. Make friends in the café or the bar, and maybe join in with a traditional music session. Self-catering accommodation is provided at Kinramer Cottage ('the camping barn'). This is 3.5 miles (1 hr walk) from Rathlin's harbour where you'll find most of the island's services (shop, cafe, post office, pub), and 1 mile (20 mins walk) from the Seabird Centre. The cottage has two single-sex shared bedrooms, one with six beds and one with three beds.

How to apply


Jane Shah, UKHQ Volunteering Development Department
Tel: 01767 680551


The spectacular location is mainly outdoors, at a cliff-side lighthouse and visitor centre, within a National Nature Reserve on a scenic island that is steeped in history and rich in biodiversity. Late night sunsets, island characters and wide panoramas combine to provide a volunteering experience second to none. Tourism makes an important and growing contribution to the local economy and the Seabird Centre is one of the main visitor attractions on the island. RSPB staff on Rathlin also include a Warden and Assistant Warden who manage the RSPB's reserves. These include Roonivoolin and Knockans,which offer spectacular coastal walking trail and a stunning clifftop viewpoint. The RSPB works closely with the local farmers and the wider community, and during your stay you will be expected to act as ambassadors, helping to build support for the work of RSPB. Appropriate training will be provided, and pre-agreed expenses will be re-imbursed where necessary. The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. Nature is amazing - help us keep it that way. Click here to join today 'The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654

Reference number 303