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Volunteering is the process of spending time, free of charge, to help an individual, organisation or cause. Regardless of the job or sector, volunteering can help develop your skill set and give you insight into different sectors.

Photo of man clearing plastic waste from a river

Volunteering to support your career

Get to know the field and roles you’re interested in

Build skills in an area you’re interested in

Demonstrate that you’re passionate and committed

Connect and network with people in the industry

Gain experience in a different workplace

Build confidence

Envisage the direction and future of your career

Volunteering in a green job

There are many ways in which volunteering can support the green agenda. In fact, environmental organisations often rely on volunteers to fulfil certain tasks.

  • Clearing litter from natural spaces such as beaches, woodlands and parks
  • Supporting the fight to reduce food waste
  • Volunteer with your local council and get involved with pushing the green agenda forward in the political arena
  • Protecting ecosystems, habitats and wildlife, including volunteering with your local wildlife group
  • Spending time talking to your organisation and colleagues about the importance of sustainability – spread the word
  • Advising on domestic energy efficiency by linking up with Citizens Advice Bureau or a Local Library (requires relevant qualifications)
  • Get involved in one of the IEMA Steering Groups
  • Volunteer at a local charity shop, promoting second-hand fashion.
Image of workers planting trees in a forest

Flexible volunteering


Volunteering is a commitment, and it can be difficult to dedicate time whilst juggling work, caring and other commitments. These tips might be able to help you think about volunteering in a different way.

  • Not always, but often, charities will support individuals to volunteer by paying travel expenses.
  • Some organisations will allow employees to take additional leave to support volunteer work. This provides a great opportunity to try something new.
  • Consider whether there are volunteer roles that you can do from home – many organisations need support with writing, or other web-based tasks.
  • Voluntary work should be accessible to everyone, including anyone with a physical/neuro disability or health condition. The Equality Act says that there is a duty for all employers to make reasonable adjustments if you’re placed at a substantial disadvantage because of your disability. So don’t hold back from applying to the role that you are interested in.
  • Volunteering roles range from supporting at the same time every week, shift work, or just helping out on an ad-hoc basis as and when you have the availability. They can also take place over short or long periods of time, during the day, evenings, weekends or school holidays.

Take the next step and get involved. Look into volunteering in causes that you are passionate about and that are related to your career interests to find like-minded individuals to connect with.

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IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals