Residential Volunteering Abroad: A Scottish Experience
Volunteer in the U.K.
The U.K. has a strong network of volunteer organizations, many of which are willing to take volunteers of almost any age and nationality. For six months I served as a residential
volunteer in Scotland with the Edinburgh Cyrenians, www.cyrenians.org.uk, a nondenominational organization which maintains two homes for homeless youth.
Residents and volunteers live alongside each other and share in household chores.
I worked five days a week in exchange for two days off and a modest living allowance
(£30 a week). Accommodations and food were provided and all the volunteers had access to the time-off flat in the city during their free
days. Our project manager was a certified social worker who helped the residents find more permanent accommodations and provided support for the volunteers.
While living in Edinburgh, I traveled to the Highlands, attended the Edinburgh and Fringe Festivals, and earned a place as a true resident of that beautiful and magical city.
While a number of organizations offer voluntary placements for a fee, with research and a little perseverance it is easy to find placements on your own. A good resource is Vacation
Works International Directory of Voluntary Work, www.vacationwork.co.uk, distributed in the U.S. by Petersons, a directory aimed at British readers with listings for long-term
If you are interested in the Edinburgh Cyrenians in particular, request an application
form directly by writing to 107A Ferry Rd., Edinburgh EH6 4ET, U.K. (you can also send an email message to Edinburghcyrenians@virgin.net
or call 011-44-131-555-3707).
For placements in the U.K. lasting under six months, a tourist visa, given at the
airport upon arrival, is sufficient. It is advisable to bring a letter of acceptance from the voluntary organization that spells out the terms of your placement
and the monetary compensation that you will receive.