Volunteering ideas for Participants – “the soul”

Volunteering is simple. It’s about choosing to give time to help people in need, the community or society, the environment or animals. You’ll learn loads of things along the way but the focus is not yourself – it’s always about others in need and how you are helping them.

Your DofE Volunteering CANNOT be done with or for a profit making business whether it’s a corporation or sole trader. It has to be undertaken with a charity or not-for-profit organisation. If you want to learn a Life Skill in return for helping out a business then that becomes a DofE Skill, not Volunteering, Always SUBMIT your plans on eDofE to be sure.

For your volunteering activity you need to choose to give time to do something useful to help others (or animals) in need, without getting paid (apart from expenses). Loads of links and ideas below – in no particular order. Sometimes there are minimum ages (for sensible and insurance reasons) that have to be adhered to, but please don’t let that put you off making further enquiries. Don’t forget that there are active jobs to do as well as admin or even fundraising – which could be done mainly from home. Go explore!

Here is a useful volunteer agreement that you are welcome to use as it sets out things very clearly for you and the organisation. Volunteer Agreement between DofE Participant and Organisation

Ask at School, your old Primary or their linked pre-schools – all community organisations – so long as it’s out of your curriculum time and adds up to more than an hour a week. It could be helping younger students in class or on the sports field; in the library; at after school clubs; school fundraising; joining a working group to improve school for everyone………… to name but a few

Look at community notice boards to understand a bit more about what’s going on in your home town or village or hamlet – there may be pleas for help there or contact details to ask if help is needed. Lots of villages have community web pages now, certainly the Towns and Counties all do and they all have relevant (to volunteering) information to various levels.

Click here to find the A-Z of parish and town councils in Dorset.

Towns often have community pages to their websites:-

There are a large number of community organisations in and around Shaftesbury that this COMMUNITY page will provide links to. It also lists Shaftesbury/Motcombe churches and schools.

Gillingham Town Council – lovely reception staff if you want to go and ask – or look under “links” on their front page – masses of stuff going on! The Three Rivers Partnership works with community groups and is based in the Community Office next to the Library.

Blandford Town Council has a great “Groups” page which is well worth scouring

LIve in Stur? Have a look at The Town Council site for a contact number for someone to speak to

Beaminster has a facebook community page where people post for help and maybe you can post asking if anyone wants help? (be internet savvy tho!)

Wareham has published an Official Town Guide online and at the back is a list of services and groups that could be useful to consider volunteering for (or even for a skill/phys)

Ferndown has several categories of community areas you can explore here.

The Wincanton Window is a community website with lots of information on local clubs, sport, church, activity and interest groups

Some more local community sites we’ve found:The Marnhull MessengerChild Okeford; East Stour; East Knoyle; Maiden Bradley; Warminster; Stalbridge; CrockertonLongbridgeandHillDeverill; Mere; DonheadsCharltonLudwellandtheCoombes; Fontmell Magna; Fifehead Magdalen; Okeford Fitzpaine; Iwerne Valley;

There’s a list here of lots of West Wilts Community/Neighbourhood sites

The Award has a page where there is a long list of national organisations that you might be interested in, if there’s a local branch, and who are already used to working with Participants.

Read on for more ideas!

Dorset Churches – Parish Clerks will know their community (as will the Vicar) and where people may need help either because of their age or an infirmity. That could simply mean helping someone with their shopping, walking dogs, gardening, housework, companionship.

Messy Church – family fun meetings once every month. You would need to discuss how you’d meet the average hour per week you need – maybe setting up and clearing up will take 4 hrs – otherwise keep going until the hours are covered or there are other activities connected to the group that you can help with. Such as the planning meetings. “Biscuit Barrel” is the Church youth group for yr6 to about yr8. Fridays once a  month. There’s also a pop up cafe (see events page) that is on every 2nd Saturday of the month: they’ve just extended hours and menu to help raise monies for other charities, Contact info here on the Church website – plus a links page for other Church based information.

There are village/town youth clubs all over the place, where you could offer to help – even help behind the tuck bar is usually well received, and you can find out who to talk to from pages like Youth Action Wiltshire, Dorset Youth Association, and Somerset Youth

ABLEize is dedicated to maintaining the largest disability and mobility resources on the Internet, browse the sites listed to help you find details of clubs, groups, sports and social activities and sites of interest for all adults and children with a disability in Dorset.

Hipp!!Bones Club for Young People with Special Needs based at Gillingham Youth Centre. This Club meets the 1st and 3rd Saturday mornings in the month for 2 hours, each time, so you will need to aim to be there to help prepare and clear up in order to make the hours needed.

Girl Guiding Dorset – check out this link to find out where the Units are.

Scouts, Cubs and Beavers –you can find out about Scouting groups from their County websites: Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset.

Gillingham Action for Nature Group – Bob Messer – conservation around the Town.

Duncliffe, Fifehead and Kingsettle Woods are managed by volunteers who also look after bats, butterflies, owls and orchids! They are featured on the Woodland Trust site – where you can get in touch to find out how to get involved.

Community Shops (run by a team of volunteers for the benefit of the community) are in Motcombe , Bishops Caundle, Thorncombe, Maiden Bradley, Broadwindsor, Semley, Woodgreen (Fordingbridge), Dinton, and there may well be more.

Whats GR8 in SP8 – activities, clubs, support groups in Gillingham that might want help

North Dorset Sports Clubs may want some help with younger age groups

Find out what you may be able to offer a Children’s Centre through volunteering. There are 27 across Dorset!

Railway enthusiast ? Have a look here at the Shillingstone (16+ yrs) Project; Somerset and Dorset Railway (Junior and Adult m’ship); Swanage Railway (Youth Group,12 -16 yrs); Somerset and Dorset Railway at Midsomer Norton; Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust.

Maybe think about getting involved with the Ramblers who, amongst other things, help to maintain local paths. Other jobs are helping to run groups, lead walks, campaigning

Longmead Community Farm is near Milborne St Andrew in Dorset and uses the opportunities of participating in outdoor community life on a rural smallholding to encourage and support families in crisis and other groups with similar needs.

In Dorchester there is the Under Lanche Community Farm.

River Bourne Community Farm is in Laverstock, nr Salisbury and has developed into a sustainable working farm, supported by staff and by volunteers.

Fancys Farm, Portland is a community interest farm and run by volunteers

The Cinnamon Trust is a charity set up to look after pets belonging to the terminally ill by placing volunteers to help them out.

Here is a link to the Animal Rescue Directory for the UK. If you contact your local Vet they may know of further rescues. Please remember that you mustn’t offer your volunteer time to a Vet Practice, to look after pets with paying owners, as the Vets would be viewed as a commercial organisation. However if they have a Rescue section that relies on volunteer help to function then that is feasible – check tho’!

Like horses and everything to do with them? What about Riding for the Disabled? Pop your postcode into this page and several groups will come up.

Think about fundraising as an individual or a  team for something like Children in Need or Comic Relief or a charity of your choice. Commitment (for sectional dates) can start the day your plans start to take shape, through the event/s, and up to the time you pay your raised monies across.

You might find a local cause here to add funds to, or even set up your own Just Giving account to raise money for others.

Online projects use remote volunteers to help their cause. This activity would need a careful log of involvement completed. Have a chat with your leader about Missing Maps and  Zooniverse

Charity Shops in the area are listed on Google – just search. Here is a search link that should show contact details for quite a list. Thorngrove Garden Centre is a Scope organisation that combines horticulture with care for young people.

Youth Clubs in Dorset. County Youth provision has changed. New Community Groups are however taking over some of the old DCC Youth Centres and looking for all the volunteer help they can get. Go to the next link down – DYA – to enquire. 

Dorset Youth Association

The Library Service

Live Careers ads

Dorset Volunteer Centre

PDSA – get involved

Dorset Wildlife Trust

Margaret Green Animal Sanctuary

Weldmar Hospice


Royal Voluntary Service

St Johns Ambulance

Red Cross

The Rotary

Alzheimers Society – singing for the brain in Gillingham

Somerset and Dorset Animal Rescue


If you’ve got this far and nothing suits then try your own search.  Virtually all towns and villages have community websites these days and by just googling where you live alongside the word “volunteer” you will come up with something!

Resource: Volunteer Agreement between DofE Participant and Organisation