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Remote wanderlust: 5 ways to be a virtual volunteer in the UK

Change the world from your home.

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Find out exactly how to volunteer from home.
Find out exactly how to volunteer from home.

Perhaps your working from home days are behind you. Perhaps you’ve already proudly summited that reading stack, wiped your Netflix 'My List' clean and had a falling out with the trusty home toolbox. Or maybe, you’re just looking for a practical way to lend your time, skills and attention to a cause that needs you.

If you’re feeling the pull to give, consider yourself a self-driven individual - with a trusty WiFi connection! - read on for a list of ways you can make a difference from home.

Join the United Nations

The United Nations has 12,000 people actively engaged in online volunteering across 187 countries. And you could be one of them. The main focus of the virtual volunteer programme is to address sustainable development challenges throughout the world.                  

“The cohesion, encouragement and inspiration of the team of volunteers have been immense. My online collaboration is easily on par with that of a face-to-face setting,” said online volunteer and lawyer Kirthi Jayakumar. Areas that require your help include teaching, writing, administration, translation, design, and more. To explore specific opportunities you can currently virtually volunteer for, check out https://www.unv.org/.

Lend your flair for language

Use your language skills to help others.
Use your language skills to help others.

People across the world require critical information to help them make the right decisions for their health and wellbeing. To meet this demand, Translators Without Borders is a non-profit organisation working to translate critical information into more than 20 different languages.

The organisation currently requires support in the following languages:

  • Chinese (Simplified and Traditional)
  • Thai
  • Tagalog (Filipino)
  • Bahasa Indonesian
  • Vietnamese
  • Korea
  • Japanese
  • Malay
  • Myanmar (Burmese)
  • Hindi
  • Bangla

As you can see, Translators Without Borders are currently focusing on Asian languages, however, they're open to speaking with volunteers fluent in other languages. If you’d like to volunteer from home and use your language skills to help people access vital health-related information, head to the Translators Without Borders website.

An eye for an eye

Champion boxer Muhammad Ali said: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” It’s always nice to be reminded that our contribution to society extends far beyond the financial and material. If you love your apps, you’ll appreciate this next virtual volunteering idea. Be My Eyes is a free app that helps improve the accessibility of the world for people with vision impairment. This is done by simply pairing blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers through video chat.

It’s so easy to get involved in this virtual assistance programme that there are currently more than three million volunteers giving up their valuable time. Join the community today, and help more than 200,000 people with vision impairment. Download the app for iOS or Android.

Combat the loneliness epidemic

Isolation and loneliness have always been prevalent in the UK. If it's any indication of the attention this issue deserves, just a few years ago the UK government appointed an official Minister for Loneliness. If you’d like to make a difference in the life of an isolated person, check out Age UK’s Call in Time service. Call in Time is a free telephone friendship service for people aged 60 plus.

Volunteers can sign up to form a connection with someone in this demographic, and simply have a weekly 30-minute catch-up over the phone. You won’t even need to leave the house. The best part is, the Call in Time team will pair you with someone who has similar interests to you, so it will be a mutually beneficial volunteering opportunity.

We wish you all the best of luck with your volunteering journey. Feel free to share with us what you get up to over the next few months.

Serena is a writer based in London. Born in Malaysia and raised in Australia, she calls the UK home despite only recently acclimatising to the dearth of sunshine. Her writing has appeared in The Independent, Business Insider, South China Morning Post, i-D, Refinery29, Glamour, Vox, Metro, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan. She has also published a book of aerial photography: How Women See The World. Throughout her decade-long career, Serena has told the stories of Arctic explorers, human rights activists, award-winning chefs, refugees, and the UK’s last lighthouse keepers.

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