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Written by Victoria Abbott, Recruitment & Selection Adviser at UCL Careers.
Volunteers’ Week 2020 took place last week (1 – 7 June), so it’s an opportune time to think about how you might offer your help, particularly in support of those affected by the current situation. As well as contributing to charities and those in need within your wider community, volunteering online is a great way to boost your employability skills and is an excellent source of experience should your summer plans be uncertain. Don’t forget that volunteering online could also improve your mental health and create a sense of social and personal wellbeing. The amount of time you dedicate is completely flexible, plus all you need is an internet connection!
Here’s our pick of the some of the top online volunteering opportunities available to you right now:
Zooniverse is an online platform that enables ‘people powered research.’ Whether you are looking for a career in data-analytics, research or communication; or more broadly across the sciences, humanities or more, the app allows participation in all kinds of research. This is a great opportunity to get involved in more niche sectors as well, with research projects as diverse as classifying galaxies, counting penguins or transcribing manuscripts. Volunteer your time with over 2,077,955 other registered volunteers around the world and add a unique experience to your CV.
- Amnesty Decoders
Amnesty Decoders volunteers help to research and expose human rights violations. All you need is to use your computer or smartphone to sift through images, information and documents to support those affected. Amnesty activists have helped defend hundreds of thousands of people at risk across the globe, and this experience will also boost your analytical, research and digital skills.
- Do It
Take a look at Do It, a voluntary community platform, with a variety of volunteering opportunities that can be completed from the safety of your own home, such as telephone befriending, where volunteers offer to make daily calls to vulnerable or isolated individuals during lockdown. As well as providing a valuable service, this is great for boosting your confidence and interpersonal skills.
- SPEAK – Be a Buddy
If you want to boost your language, translation and mentoring skills, then look no further than the SPEAK – Be a Buddy scheme. As well as learning more about other cultures around the world, you will effectively share your language skills, motivation and passion to assist others to learn a language. This is also a great way to make new friends and connections in these challenging times.
- Missing Maps
Missing Maps is a collaborative project to provide vital assistance with mapping areas where humanitarian organisations need to provide relief efforts and meet the needs of vulnerable people by providing disaster response activities. Volunteers work remotely to trace satellite imagery, so as well as increasing your geographical, problem solving, and attention to detail skills, you will be literally contributing to activities that save lives on the ground.
- Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers for visual assistance through a live video call. This could involve helping with reading instructions, navigating new surroundings or even reading a recipe. As well as providing a vital social connection, this voluntary scheme will boost your listening and verbal communication skills.
- The British Museum
The British Museum is just one example of museums, galleries and collections across the globe that are desperate for voluntary assistance, both in person and online. Opportunities vary according to the work of the department and their current needs, but this can be a great foothold into an area that is notoriously difficult to gain work experience in. Departmental volunteers can help online with cataloguing artefacts, retrospective evaluation of exhibitions and contributing to learning programmes.
- UNV Online
United Nations Volunteering (UNV) online programme is a vital resource supporting United Nations entities and their partners, and is particularly crucial in the current situation. A variety of volunteering projects are available, boosting your key transferable skills across writing and editing, translation, leadership, art and design, project development, technology and advocacy. All meetings and communication takes place online through Skype and email exchange, so there’s no excuse not to get involved.
- UCL Volunteering Service
Students’ Union UCL’s Volunteering Service also have a guide for safe volunteering, featuring lots of opportunities for UCL students to get involved whilst observing social distancing requirements. The guide includes details of virtual volunteering and how to stay safe if you’re helping out in person. If you’re looking for some inspiration, you can also read about the experiences of some UCL students who’ve been volunteering during the current situation.
- UCL Alumni Volunteer Now
UCL’s Volunteer Now has digital volunteering opportunities designed to help you stay connected, share knowledge and play an active role in supporting UCL’s global alumni community. With current opportunities within Professional Development, Social & Wellbeing and Alumni Online Community Support, you could gain great experience in a range of activities, from blog writing, running online community groups or even being a mentor.
Remember that extra-curricular activities and volunteering experiences are great ways to demonstrate your strengths and skills both in your CV or when answering competency questions at interview, so take some time now to think about how you can demonstrate your skills and experiences. Don’t forget to take the opportunity to book a virtual application advice appointment with the UCL Careers team if you would like some feedback or further assistance with your applications.