Answers to the most common volunteering questions

The information below is designed to answer any questions you have. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, please get in touch.

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Thanks for your interest in volunteering. Hopefully, the information below is designed to answer any questions you have. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, please get in touch.

Do I have to be an RSPB member to volunteer?

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

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

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. Don't know a Robin from a Redwing? You can still get stuck in.

Where can I volunteer?

Wherever suits you! Choose from:

  • Your home
  • Your local community
  • Outdoors or indoors on our nature reserves
  • Your nearest RSPB office
  • Abroad
Three people walking in low sun along the peak of a grassy hill.

Is there an upper or lower age limit?

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 your age, there'll be a volunteering opportunity for you. This is slightly different for residential volunteering – 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?

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?

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?

Depending on the role, it could be an hour, a day or a regular ongoing commitment.

As a volunteer, you are free to leave whenever you like, stop when a project or work ends, or move to another role.

If other people depend on you, we will ask you to let your RPSB contact know your availability or if you are planning any time away from volunteering. If you are poorly please let us know, we want to be able to support you.

What training will I get?

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

Will I be insured?

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

I am receiving Welfare Benefits, am I allowed to volunteer?

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?

No, a criminal record should not stop you from volunteering with us, but it might limit the things you are able to do.

If you wish to make a confidential enquiry, please send us an email at

Can I volunteer if I have a disability?

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.

A man wearing a mask on a mobility scooter holding binoculars at RSPB Rye Meads.

Do you accept volunteers from outside of the UK?

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. The UK is not longer a member of the European Union, but EU nationals can still volunteer in the if: they have settled or pre settled status, they have a visa that allows them to volunteer, they're volunteering with an EU-funded programme like Erasmus+

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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